The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

23 hours ago

7 Things: Ivey ends federal unemployment benefit, Alabamians will see higher gas prices soon, Publix now offers walk-in coronavirus vaccines and more …

7. BLM in Birmingham demands mayor and police chief resign

  • Even though all evidence shows that the officer-involved shooting that killed Desmon Ray, Jr. was a “good shoot,” activists in Birmingham are calling his death a “murder” and calling for resignations of the mayor and other leaders in the city. The video that has been released shows Ray firing at police officers before he was killed. Mayor Randall Woodfin says he is not resigning.
  • BLM Birmingham co-founder Eric Hall called for Woodfin and Police Chief Patrick Smith to resign, and the group is even demanding personal condolences. Hall said, “This family has been demanding that the leadership of this community, Mayor Randall Woodfin, council members, the police chief, anybody in leadership should have come to this family to offer their condolences.”

6. Huntsville mayor and police chief under fire, too

614

  • On Friday, Huntsville police officer William Darby was found guilty of committing murder in the line of duty. He has been released on bond and has continued to have the support of the Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray and Mayor Tommy Battle.
  • Now, Battle and McMurray are facing criticism and calls to resign after showing their support for Darby. This all follows on the heels of a recent Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council report about the protests that happened in the city in 2020 that claimed the city didn’t do what it should have. After the protests, McMurray and Battle showed support for police.

5. Biden is still not Trump, and that is enough for some people

  • New data released by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that 47% of Republicans say they approve of how President Joe Biden has handled the coronavirus pandemic so far. 
  • Overall, Biden’s approval rating is at 63%, and 71% of Americans approve of how he’s handled the pandemic. While 54% of people think the nation is on the right track, 44% say we’re on the wrong track. 

4. Children 12 and older can now get the Pfizer vaccine

  • The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has approved the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to be used on those 12 years and older, which comes after 2,000 volunteers between 12 and 15-years-old were given the vaccine. 
  • Of those who received the vaccine, none got the coronavirus, while 18 people in the group who got a placebo shot got the coronavirus. When receiving the same dose as adults, adolescents had the same side effects as adults. 

3. Walk-in vaccinations are now offered at Publix

  • In Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida, you can now get the coronavirus vaccine without an appointment at Publix. 
  • Both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines are offered at Publix. This comes after there have been reports of a decreased rate of vaccinations in Alabama. 

2. Gas prices are about to go up — hacking group is sorry

  • The Colonial Pipeline shut down due to a cyberattack, which is likely to impact Alabama’s gas prices sooner than most other areas. Some of the others to be impacted first will be Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina. This is because the pipeline is the main supplier of fuel in these areas. 
  • The Colonial Pipeline provides about 45% of the fuel for the East Coast, which is about 2.5 million barrels per day. If the pipeline operation is restored soon, the impact on gas prices could be minimal, but the longer it’s delayed, the greater chance for a spike in prices.  The group responsible has apologized for “creating problems for society” and their goal is just “to make money.”

1. No more federal unemployment benefits in Alabama

  • The $300 per week additional unemployment benefits from the federal government will no longer be given to people in Alabama starting on June 19, as Governor Kay Ivey has announced. People are pretending this decision is racist, of course.
  • While the media and their Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have decided to pretend this isn’t about government handouts keeping people from wanting to go to work, it clearly is. A Goldman Sachs analysis of the latest jobs report explains the obvious, saying, “[L]abor supply appears to be tighter than the unemployment rate suggests, likely reflecting the impact of unusually generous unemployment benefits and lingering virus-related impediments to working.”

2 days ago

7 Things: Alabama legislative session not quite over yet, government may ‘allow’ vaccinated people more ‘privileges,’ states dump federal unemployment benefits and more …

7. Inmate killed just before release

  • The Alabama Department of Corrections has said that an inmate, 23-year-old Ian Retting, died in an “apparent inmate-on-inmate assault,” but Retting’s death happened just one day before he was scheduled to be released.
  • The department also said that the deal is “being thoroughly investigated by the Department’s Law Enforcement Services Division,” adding, “Violence within ADOC facilities is not tolerated.” This comes after the U.S. Department of Justice ruled that conditions at Alabama men’s prisons were unconstitutional.

6. Moore supports constitutional carry

642

  • State Representative Andrew Sorrell (R-Muscle Shoals) and State Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) have both introduced legislation that would legalize constitutional carry in Alabama, which would remove the requirement for concealed carry permits.
  • U.S. Representative Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) has now voiced support for this legislation, saying, “We shouldn’t need a permit to exercise our rights. The 2nd Amendment IS our permit.” He went on to say, “People are realizing now, more than ever, we need state legislatures to step up and fight against gun grabs by the Democrats.”

 5. Clarke County sheriff being impeached

  • Clarke County Sheriff William Ray Norris has been served notice of an Information of Impeachment and Prayer for Ouster in the Alabama Supreme Court, and Attorney General Steve Marshall has announced that the impeachment process is in motion.
  • The investigation into Norris started last year and has resulted in four charges of corruption in office and 11 charges of the commission of crimes involving moral turpitude. If there are going to be criminal charges outside the impeachment, those charges must be brought separately.

4. U.S. may have undercounted deaths

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said that he believes the United States has undercounted how many people have died from the coronavirus throughout the pandemic. Nationally, there are over 581,000 deaths from the coronavirus.
  • Fauci made these comments on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where he also indicated that he doesn’t agree with the University of Washington analysis that the death toll could be over 900,000. Although, he went on to say that the national vaccination rate should be 80% and we need to use “trusted messengers” to get there.

3. Some states are rejecting federal unemployment benefits, Alabama could as well

  • After an underwhelming jobs report, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has announced that his state will be the latest state to reject the federal unemployment benefits of $300 per week as there’s a national struggle to find workers coming out of the pandemic. The federal benefits are meant to last until September at least, and Arkansas will be ending their participation on June 26.
  • While Governor Kay Ivey has not mentioned making changes in Alabama, the problems cited in these states are here as well. Unemployment is low, and reports of businesses not being able to find jobs have been aplenty.

2. You might be allowed to do more stuff soon, if the government approves

  • When asked about why a clearly vaccinated President Joe Biden is still wearing a mask, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients responded, “The CDC guidance across time will allow vaccinated people more and more privileges to take off that mask.”
  • Zients also told CNN that the Biden administration is aware of the obvious. He advised, “I think everyone is tired and wearing a mask can be a pain, but we’re getting there. The light at the end of the tunnel is brighter and brighter.”

1. The last day of the Alabama legislative session is one week away

  • There’s only one day left in the session, but there are still a number of bills that are awaiting a final decision in the Alabama Legislature. While it seems unlikely that the gambling bill will have a future this session, it is technically still in play.
  • Another bill that is pending this session is that of banning transgender treatment for minors and making administering certain medications or performing gender reassignment surgery a felony. The legislation that would make it a criminal offense to enforce any new federal gun control laws could still be considered, and the bill that could delay the requirement for third graders to pass a reading test to advance still has the potential to pass.

3 days ago

VIDEO: Medical marijuana passes, gambling bill does not, another GOP civil war and more on Alabama Politics This Week …

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and political consultant Mecca Musick take you through Alabama’s biggest political stories, including:

— What is next for marijuana after medical marijuana passes?

— Gambling bill dies again. Will it ever have enough votes?

— Should anyone really care that U.S. Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) is feuding with former President Donald Trump and her own caucus?

88

Jackson and Musick are joined by FM Talk 106.5’s Jeff Poor to discuss the issues facing the state of Alabama this week.

Jackson closes the show with a “Parting Shot” directed at Attorney General Steve Marshall, imploring him to start shutting down casinos that he has said in the past are illegal.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN and on Talk 99.5 from 10AM to noon.

5 days ago

Alabama is open for business, but Biden administration policies are keeping jobs unfilled

(YHN/Pixabay)

Alabama is currently in position to spring forward after the COVID-19 pandemic, however actions taken by the federal government are presenting new hurdles to overcome on the path to full recovery.

The Yellowhammer State currently has the lowest unemployment rate in the Southeast and one of the lowest in the entire country; Alabama businesses are actively looking to hire, with good jobs available across a wide array of sectors.

While certain industries always have to contend with skills gaps and related workforce considerations that can leave vacancies unfilled longer than is ideal, service sectors are especially feeling the squeeze right now due to not being able to fill existing job openings.

470

The problem has been well documented in media reports, by elected officials and by stakeholders; you can also drive around just about any town in Alabama and see the posted signs at restaurants and other businesses in the hospitality arena. These businesses, many of them locally owned and/or operated, simply cannot find enough people willing to work to operate their establishments in a normal fashion. Some businesses are having to limit hours of operations due to staffing shortages, as well as service potentially suffering during open hours due to overburdened shifts. Either way, business owners, employees and customers are losing out.

Why?

Many have pointed to the extra $300 in weekly unemployment benefits that President Joe Biden’s administration is paying Americans to stay at home instead of working. This is persisting even with low numbers of COVID cases and hospitalizations in states like Alabama, as well as vaccines being available to all adults.

If Friday’s dismal nationwide jobs reports is any indication, the Biden administration has effectively disincentivized employment. This is not only leading to labor shortages, but also hurting the recovery of the American economy — especially some of the very sectors that were most negatively affected by the pandemic.

“The disappointing jobs report makes it clear that paying people not to work is dampening what should be a stronger jobs market,” stated U.S. Chamber of Commerce executive vice president and chief policy officer Neil Bradley. “We need a comprehensive approach to dealing with our workforce issues and the very real threat unfilled positions poses to our economic recovery from the pandemic. One step policymakers should take now is ending the $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefit. Based on the Chamber’s analysis, the $300 benefit results in approximately one in four recipients taking home more in unemployment than they earned working.”

Congressman Mike Rogers (AL-03) agrees with the call to end the $300 supplemental unemployment benefits.

“This is a scary time for our country, as the Biden administration and Washington Democrats incentivize people to stay home and collect a government check over seeking good paying jobs,” said Rogers. “Employers in the Third District have job openings and simply can’t find people willing to fill them.”

“I know folks across East Alabama take pride in a hard day’s work and would rather earn a living than sit back and collect a free check,” he added. “What liberal Democrats are seeking to do is increase government dependence through government handouts — this is how socialism starts and it’s not who we are as a country.”

To battle the ongoing labor challenges, Alabama employers are urged to report when they have extended offers of employment to unemployed individuals who refuse work. All Alabamians are also encouraged to report potential cases of unemployment fraud.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 days ago

7 Things: Gambling bill fails, medical marijuana passes, Alabama NAACP will pay people to get vaccinated and more …

7. Biden has been told not to take questions

  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki was being interviewed by CNN senior political commentator David Axelrod when Psaki admitted that President Joe Biden has basically been told not to take impromptu questions. She advised it’s “not something we recommend.”
  • Psaki followed up saying they tell Biden “don’t take questions,” but she tried to recover by explaining “he’s going to do what he wants to do because he’s the President of the United States.” Psaki also said that the lack of press conferences from Biden is done as a way to keep the administration focused.

6. Change in election laws in Florida and Texas

636

  • Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed new legislation into law that he’s said will prevent potential election fraud going forward, while Texas worked on its own bill as well. DeSantis also said that they’re “banning ballot harvesting.” He added, “We’re not going to let political operatives go and get satchels of votes and dump them in some drop box.”
  • One of the changes made is only allowing drop boxes to operate within regular voting hours so they can “be monitored in person,” and DeSantis detailed that they’re “prohibiting mass mailing of balloting…to just indiscriminately send them out is not a recipe for success.” The new laws also prohibit “the use of private funds for election-related expenses.”

5. Jury deliberating in Huntsville police officer case

  • The murder trial against Huntsville police officer William Ben Darby has concluded with Madison County chief trial attorney Tim Gann saying, “The public trust has been violated in this case.”
  • The jurors returned this morning to continue deliberations. Darby has claimed that when he allegedly shot and killed Jeffery Parker, he was acting in self-defense, even though Parker was pointing the gun at his own head at the time of the shooting. Darby’s lead defense attorney Robert Tuten said Darby “is a police officer, an honorable person doing an honorable profession.”

4. Democrats demand you have a very short memory on bipartisanship

  • Recently, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated the obvious when he said, “100% of our focus is on stopping this new administration.” Inexplicably, the media and their Democrats have reacted to this obvious pronouncement by acting offended and demanding an end to the filibuster so they can do what they want without any pesky “resistance” from Republicans.
  • What makes this all the more comical is the idea that there has been some level of bipartisanship before this administration; the media and their Democrats made it their mission to oppose the Trump administration and never even considered him a legit president, which is another hypocritical thing altogether.

3. NAACP is giving out money to those who get vaccinated

  • In an effort to encourage more people to get the coronavirus vaccine, the Alabama NAACP is giving people a chance to win $1,000 for being vaccinated. This comes after some officials have expressed concern over how few young people are getting the vaccine.
  • Alabama NAACP president Bernard Simelton said that they “keep hearing that the Millennials and the Gen Zers don’t want to get the vaccine, so we’re doing what we can to encourage them to go ahead and get it.”

2. Medical marijuana has passed

  • Legislation that would legalize medical marijuana in Alabama has passed the Alabama House of Representatives. The bill was concurred by the Senate and will be signed by Governor Kay Ivey.
  • Medical marijuana’s #1 advocate, State Representative Mike Ball (R-Madison), with tears in his eyes, said he worked so hard on the bill because he thought “this is why the Lord sent me here.”

1. Gambling dies a slow and predictable death

  • The Alabama House of Representatives has failed to pass a piece of gambling legislation for another session, and it doesn’t look good with only one day remaining in the legislative session. It seems unlikely a bill will get done, even though Governor Kay Ivey has endorsed the bill.
  • The House attempted to find common ground on gambling all day before an attempt was made to pass a simple lottery-only bill that was shot down instantly by Democratic leaders. Reportedly, the hang-up was about where the money was going. Republicans wanted 40% of the revenue to go to enhanced health care services and Democrats wanted language about Medicaid expansion explicitly added.

6 days ago

7 Things: Medical marijuana may pass the legislature today, Ivey promotes gambling bill while Trump Jr. could have dealt a fatal blow, Facebook bans a former president and more …

7. UAH Hockey program suspended again

  • Due to an inability to join a conference, the University of Alabama in Huntsville has been forced to suspend its hockey program, which comes only a year after they announced they would discontinue the program due to funding. 
  • Despite funding issues, UAH received the necessary donations to keep the team. However, now that they haven’t secured a conference membership, the program is suspended immediately. If they are able to gain membership, they still have to wait a year before they’re eligible to conference play. 

6. Huntsville officer claiming he feared for his life

683

  • The trial for Huntsville police officer William Ben Darby in the death of Jeff Parker continues, and Darby has testified that Parker was an “imminent threat” to the officers at the scene. He admitted that Parker was sitting on a couch with a gun pointed at his own head when Darby arrived.
  • Darby said he shot because Parker didn’t put his gun down, adding, “That is a threat to my life, not to put the gun down after I’ve told him.” The first and second officers on the scene were trying to talk to Parker, which was seen by jurors on the body cam footage. Only 11 seconds after entering the house, Darby shot Parker.

5. Votes are there to remove Cheney from leadership role

  • The move to oust U.S. Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) from her leadership position in the Republican delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives appears to have the votes to accomplish the task, not to mention the momentum to do so.
  • U.S. Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) told Fox News that “the votes are there,” adding he believes that vote will take place next Wednesday. Frustration among Republicans continues to grow as Cheney seems to be reveling in the limelight of praise from the media and their Democrats during her pointless feud with former President Donald Trump and her obsession with the riots at the U.S. Capitol.

4. Redistricting starts in Alabama

  • The Alabama Legislature’s Joint Reapportionment Committee will be responsible for redrawing seven congressional districts, eight state school board seats, 35 Alabama State Senate seats and 105 seats in the Alabama State House, and they have decided they will allow a larger deviation in district population size giving those drawing the lines more flexibility.
  • There will be drama, as State Senator Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) is already complaining about process. No matter what the seats end up looking like, Republicans will hold a clear majority and a lawsuit will undoubtedly be filed that challenges the maps derived here, but a Supreme Court ruling may render those challenges moot.

3. Trump ban continues, Facebook makes itself a target

  • Facebook’s Oversight Board has decided that the ban of President Donald Trump on the social media platform will continue, and this has ignited another push by Republicans to go after big tech. Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley pointed out how Facebook and Twitter both still allow “some of the world’s worst dictators, terrorists, and bad actors” on the site.
  • Many Republican figures spoke out against the decision, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) who said, “Facebook is more interest in acting like a Democrat Super PAC than a platform for free speech and open debate.” There could be regulation coming.

2. Donald Trump, Jr. doesn’t like the gambling bill in Alabama

  • Today, the Alabama House is expected to debate the lottery and gambling bills. Governor Kay Ivey says it is a good bill, but Donald Trump, Jr. has voiced his displeasure with the gambling legislation, saying it’s a “bad bill.”
  • Trump explained that the legislation is just “giving a monopoly to a small group of casino bosses is just a special interest giveaway,” and it will “stop the world’s best gaming operators from opening world-class Resorts & Casinos in Alabama!”

1. Medical marijuana fate could be decided today

  • The legislation that could legalize medical marijuana is returning to the Alabama House of Representatives floor today, and there could be a final vote that was avoided with a filibuster on Tuesday. State Representative Mike Ball (R-Madison) has expressed optimism in the bill’s chances today.
  • With about 69 members of the House showing some support for the bill, it would likely pass if there’s a vote. State Representative Reed Ingram (R-Montgomery) has expressed interest in putting medical marijuana on a ballot for voters to decide. He advised, “It’s going to be easier once you open that oyster up and crack it to get another foot in the door.”

7 days ago

7 Things: Use the vaccine in Alabama or someone else will, medical marijuana bill stalls for now, gambling bill changes imperil the bill and more …

7. Derek Chauvin’s attorney wants a new trial in George Floyd’s murder

  • When former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter, society was told that justice was served in a fair and impartial way. Some leaders argued the guilty verdict wasn’t justice, but it turns out they may be right but for a very different reason.
  • Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, says all the pretrial publicity probably affected Chauvin’s right to a fair trial with one juror worrying about protests and another juror found to have worn a “Black Lives Matter” shirt that directly stated “get your knee off our neck,” which references the George Floyd case, prior to the trial.

6. A Trump with a blog

755

  • Former President of the United States Donald Trump has been pretty quiet since he left office and lost his Twitter and Facebook accounts, but he is now back with a new communications platform or, as it is more commonly known, a blog.
  • The site will feature the musings and notes from the desk of the former President and will be written by Donald Trump himself. Early posts include takes on U.S. Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) and her issues with her fellow Republicans as well as a post about U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) being booed at a meeting by Republicans in Utah.

5. Police vindicated in Birmingham shooting; A cop on trial in Huntsville

  • Desmon Ray, Jr. was fatally shot by Birmingham police and a newly-released video shows that he was shooting at police before he was killed. Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith said he released the video to combat the misinformation circulating in the community. 
  • During the murder trial of William Ben Darby, a Huntsville police officer accused of killing a suicidal man, former Huntsville police officer Genisha Pegues testified that she was trying to keep the man from harming himself before Darby arrived on the scene and escalated the situation. The video shown at the trial shows that Darby shot Jeff Parker less than 30 seconds after arriving at the house and Pegues said she never felt threatened by Parker while the defense argued her actions put herself and other officers in danger.  

4.  Ivey signs pay raises for teachers and government employees

  • Governor Kay Ivey signed two bills that will provide across-the-board pay raises for public education employees and all state employees beginning October 1, 2021.
  • Ivey made this an issue in her 2021 State of the State Address, specifically noting that teachers rose to the occasion during the pandemic when other states were shut down. She stated, “Alabama schools have shown the rest of the nation that it is possible to be safely back in the classroom, while carrying on the important work of providing Alabama’s children a chance for a promising future.”

3. New gambling bills will be voted on Thursday

  • There are now three new bills that have changed the proposed gambling legislation that are being considered. Each one passed committees today, but the changes may imperil the whole proposal moving forward. Changes include more enforcement, higher taxes, limits on gifts and campaign contributions, 5% for rural fire protection, and 5% for teacher bonuses, because of course.
  • There are many groups on both sides of this issue. On the pro side, there are many gambling interests, including the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and some existing gambling players in the state that will be included in the bill. On the con side, there are groups against gambling in general, groups against the bill because of how it was written and gambling interests that feel left out.

2. Medical marijuana debate takes place, bill stalls for now

  • During a lengthy floor debate yesterday, the Alabama State House was unable to overcome a filibuster by House Republicans, and a final vote to legalize a limited medical marijuana bill is in question, even though a procedural vote to move forward signaled enough votes to pass the bill.
  • Opponents noted the drug is not FDA-approved for medical purposes or fear the bill will be a gateway to recreational legalization, and it will. Proponents, like State Representative Mike Ball (R-Madison), continued to argue this bill was about compassion. Reps. Debbie Wood (R-Valley), Brett Easterbrook (R-Fruitdale) and Allen Farley (R-McCalla) all told personal stories about the medical use of the drug.

1. Use the vaccine or lose it 

  • Alabama’s pace of vaccine is lagging while the pace of the nation is slowing, and now the federal government is warning states that if they are not going to use their vaccines they will pass them on to states that need them.
  • Governor Kay Ivey continues to push Alabamians to get the vaccine, saying, “Y’all, we want shots in the arms and off the shelf. If you have not made it a priority to schedule a vaccine, I encourage you to go get the shot as soon as you are able.” She added, “If we don’t use it, we could lose it. This is our ticket back to normal. The vaccine is free and could possibly save your life.”

1 week ago

7 Things: Ivey says restrictions are almost over, hearings on lottery and gambling ahead of a vote, media attempting to misinform the public on Biden administration border moves and more …

7. No, Republicans will not draw another majority-minority U.S. House district for Democrats

  • The Montgomery Advertiser’s Brian Lyman wrote a strange piece about Alabama retaining all seven of its U.S. House seats. His article assumes that the Republican super-majority legislature will draw one of the six Republican U.S. House seats into a Democrats seat. There is no real reason for this, and almost every Democrat quoted in the story scoffs at the idea.
  • Two Democrats players in the state, Wade Perry, the executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party, and House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville), told Lyman the idea of a new majority-minority U.S. House seat is far-fetched, but Lyman suggests the courts will step in and do so, even though a Supreme Court ruling from 2019 says otherwise.

6. Kids are really honest and it’s not helping Biden

569

  • President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visited a fifth-grade classroom in Virginia, where students were extremely honest about what virtual learning actually allows them to do, and it’s not helping the argument for keeping kids out of the classroom. 
  • Some students suggested that if you didn’t know the answer to a question, you act like your mic doesn’t work to avoid answering, while others said that virtual learning allows them time to sneak in naps, and one student just described the virtual school as “terrible.” 

5. Birmingham is holding a gun buyback — go get some cheap guns

  • On Saturday, May 8, the Birmingham Police Department will be hosting a Spring Gun Buyback event with the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated. 
  • Sgt. Rod Mauldin said, “This is one of many calls for actions to fight against gun violence occurring in our communities.” Mauldin also added that the payment people will receive will be a Walmart gift card. 

4. No Republican support for Biden’s infrastructure plan

  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has confirmed what could already be suspected — that no Republican senators will be supporting President Joe Biden’s hefty $4 trillion infrastructure plan, which includes the “American Jobs Plan” and the “American Families Plan.”
  • McConnell said, “I don’t think there’ll be any Republican senators, none, zero, for the $4.1 trillion grab bag.” He also emphasized that reconciliation would have to be used to pass anything, but that’ll only work if they can actually get every Democrat on board. 

3. Four separated families united as chaos at the border reigns

  • Hilariously, the American media is transfixed on a Biden administration accomplishment of reuniting four families separated at the border after they entered the country illegally as the issue at the border continues to be a massive problem that this administration will not acknowledge. These parents were committing crimes and were incarcerated, which forced the separation. 
  • Meanwhile, 6,000 people are caught every day on the border. U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) says the idea that the border is under control is false, and Vice President Kamla Harris is closer to ending up in space than she is making a trip to the border.

2. Hearing on lottery and gambling bills held

  • A public hearing has been held on the lottery and gambling bills currently in the Alabama House of Representatives, but with only three more meeting days in the legislative session, the future of these bills is uncertain. 
  • The House Ways and Means Committee will be meeting again today to discuss adopting a new version of the lottery bill, which could be considered by the House on Thursday. Gambling packages are already being considered today, as well. After Thursday, the final meeting day is May 17. 

1. All coronavirus guidelines are coming to an end

  • For the final time, the “Safer Apart” emergency health order has been extended until May 31, 2021. Most restrictions have already been lifted, and most remaining guidelines are for hospitals and nursing homes. 
  • Governor Kay Ivey also announced that the state of emergency will officially end on June 6, 2021. Ivey noted how hospitalizations have fallen drastically and that “over 1.5 million Alabamians have had at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

1 week ago

7 Things: Travel bans to stop the coronavirus aren’t racist now, lockdown-happy states continue to suffer economically with little benefit, possibility of a special session and more …

7. Caitlyn Jenner has to be transphobic

  • Former Olympic athlete and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner has announced that he will be running for governor of California, and now he’s come out against transgender girls playing in girls’ sports. 
  • Jenner, who is transgender, said, “It just isn’t fair. And we have to protect girls’ sports in our schools.” Five states have already passed laws to prohibit transgender girls from playing in girls’ sports, and now Jenner has received backlash from the transgender community for not being more of an advocate. 

6. 2022 messages heard over the weekend in Utah and Texas

657

  • While U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) was able to beat back a censure attempt by fellow Utah Republicans 798 to 711, he was still met with jeers and claims that he was a traitor as he was booed off stage. Romney responded by stating, “I’ve been a Republican all my life. My dad was the governor of Michigan and I was the Republican nominee for president in 2012.”
  • In Texas, a special election was held for Texas’ 6th Congressional District. It saw Republicans take a 61-19 majority with two GOP candidates advancing to a runoff in a district that was a +6 Trump in 2020. The “Never Trump” Republican received 4% of the vote and the Trump-backed candidate led the pack.

5. Final phase of bringing troops back has started — sort of

  • President Joe Biden had previously set the deadline for removing all United States and NATO troops from Afghanistan for May 1, and over the weekend, the final stage of withdrawing started. 
  • Troops have already been in the process of leaving Afghanistan the with the original deadline being later this year. When Biden gave the order to withdraw troops sooner, there were about 7,000 NATO and 2,500-3,500 United States troops in the country. But even as the withdrawal starts, it is expected that the United States will maintain a presence and some control over the country.

4. Special session is unlikely, or is it?

  • Even though it appears the state of Alabama could be heading to a special session on gambling, State Senator Chris Elliot (R-Daphne) recently discussed the likelihood of a special session for the legislature, even if some of the bigger issues like prisons and gaming aren’t dealt with this session. 
  • On the topic, Elliot said he doesn’t “anticipate a special session on gaming or anything like that if they’re left unresolved this session.” It’s still possible that a prison bill could be passed before the end of the session, but time in this session is almost up. 

3. Marshall calls to dismiss the lawsuit over prison leasing plan

  • State Auditor Jim Zeigler joined three others in a lawsuit against Governor Kay Ivey over her current plan to lease out the building of three new prisons for the state. Attorney General Steve Marshall is now asking for this lawsuit to be dismissed. 
  • Marshall said the lawsuit was “strategically timed but legally meritless claims.” Zeigler has based the lawsuit on the idea that it creates debt for the state in an unconstitutional way, but lawyers for Marshall said since it’s a year-to-year agreement, it’s legal in terms of the constitution. It was also noted that with the lawsuit only coming now, and not closer to when Ivey signed the agreement on February 1, it’s strategically planned to delay financing. 

2. The evidence against lockdowns continues to mount

  • This weekend, it became clear that powerful teachers’ union activists were able to control policy at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A report compared states with severe restrictions and states that were more open and found very little difference.
  • The Wallet Hub study showed that that the states with the strongest restrictions have some of the highest unemployment rates, but differences in death rates aren’t that different. The study found that limiting travel, restricting restaurants and closing non-essential businesses did nothing but harm the economy of the states that stuck with it.

1. 2020 Biden thinks 2021 Biden is a racist

  • Coronavirus cases in India have increased dramatically, so President Joe Biden has banned travel to the United States from India. Previously, Biden said travel bans “will not stop” the coronavirus. 
  • Former President Donald Trump was also called xenophobic by Biden when he banned travel from China during the pandemic, but Biden has not received such criticism. 

2 weeks ago

2021 POWER & INFLUENCE 40: Numbers 1-10

It would stand to reason that the most powerful and influential media outlet in Alabama would have a keen sense of which state political figures fit the same bill.

That’s why Yellowhammer Multimedia, once again, is publishing its Power and Influence 40.

Taking into account countless conversations with political insiders, as well as the most recent developments in politics and public policy, the list is meant to recognize the top individuals in government and politics who leverage their power and influence on behalf of those they represent and the Yellowhammer State.

The ranked list is being released in four segments. Today we announce the individuals who comprise numbers 1 through 10. Numbers 31-40, 21-30 and 11-20 have already been published.

Welcome to a peek behind the curtain.

3083

10. Quentin Riggins

What we said in 2019: The work Quentin Riggins does outside of politics would probably land him on any list of influential Alabamians. He is a pillar of the community and has involved himself in a myriad of different causes aimed at improving his home state.

Quentin Riggins has charted a remarkable path for himself to reach the heights of Alabama’s corporate community.

He can now point to more than 25 years of experience which has led to his current position as senior vice president of Governmental and Corporate Affairs at Alabama Power.

Riggins has served as a member of a governor’s cabinet, a senior staffer for a Speaker of the House and a senior vice president of the Business Council of Alabama. Then he did what most would do with that impressive resume — he built a private governmental affairs practice.

But Riggins did not stop there.

He instead entered the corporate world where he now leads Alabama Power’s extensive state and federal government relations program. He also coordinates the company’s grassroots and corporate relations effort throughout the state and nation, a critical function for a company with 1.4 million customers.

One of the truest ways to gauge power and influence is to look at how many “so goes this, so goes the state” entities and issues with which someone is involved.

Riggins has many.

The reason is that when leaders want to add heft to their effort and ensure its success, they tap Riggins.

There is a palpable reverence shown toward Riggins by his peers and the next generation of governmental affairs professionals. The fact is that they know power and influence when they see it.

9. Will Ainsworth

What we said in 2019: Ainsworth has displayed poise and wisdom well beyond his years, and the result is a lieutenant governor who has become a kingmaker rather than an afterthought. … His career is still just getting started, and Ainsworth will be elected to whatever job he wants in 2022.

We said it when he took Montgomery by storm after his election in 2018, and we’ll say it again: Will Ainsworth has completely transformed what a lieutenant governor can be — and accomplish — in a role that has largely been scoffed at by insiders over the past two decades.

Already a statesman at his young age, Ainsworth has quietly but rapidly become an out-front leader on some of the policy issues most important to the present and future of the Yellowhammer State. Whether it be chairing the Alabama Military Stability Commission and the package of pro-military bills he spearheaded to enactment this session, leading the charge to reopen the economy last spring, or heading up the 21st Century Workforce Commission, Ainsworth has made a name across Alabama as a pro-jobs conservative willing to tackle thorny, in-the-weeds policy challenges.

However, he has also started to grow a national profile, including as chair of the national Aerospace States Association and by bringing the National Lieutenant Governors Association annual meeting to Alabama for only the second time ever.

The world is his oyster, and it is only a matter of time before Ainsworth makes the leap to serve as governor or a United States senator. He has said that he will not run for the Senate this coming cycle, nor will he run against Gov. Kay Ivey, yet his endorsement will be at the top of the list for any candidate in 2022.

Ainsworth is well-positioned to be one of Alabama’s most powerful and influential people for decades to come.

8. Bill Poole

What we said in 2019: Bill Poole might just be the most powerful non-Speaker member of the Alabama House of Representatives. Ever.

Somehow, Bill Poole has outdone himself again.

As chair of the House Ways and Means Education committee, Poole has inherent power and influence. However, it is how he wields these responsibilities — and how he conducts himself on an interpersonal level — that makes him stand out above every other legislative chairperson, without exception.

We’re going to have more to say about him in the coming weeks, but know this: Bill Poole is in the type of rarified air that few before him have ever walked. Across party lines, by lobbyists and constituents alike, year after year, Poole earns the unquestioned respect and trust of everyone who watches him work for the people of Alabama. And he does it all without fanfare or fuss.

It’s time the University of Alabama, his alma mater, cuts a new “Where Legends are Made” commercial that shows a highlight reel of Poole’s legislative accomplishments — although that would be impossible in a 30-second spot.

This session alone, he has shepherded the largest-ever education budget in state history to passage, sponsored a bill signed into law reauthorizing and improving vital economic development incentivizes, and — through his chairmanship of the Alabama Innovation Commission — is one step away from passing two related bills to help grow the state’s tech and entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Any time a trade association or principal has a crucial bill that they need pass, their first thought is to see if Poole would carry the legislation. He’s simply the best at what he does.

The only question left about Poole is, “What’s next?”

7. Katie Boyd Britt

What we said in 2019: Britt has brought an energy, an excitement and an optimism back to BCA through her buoyant leadership. Through vision, determination and an undefinable charisma, she is setting the organization and its member companies up for unparalleled successes. However, her personal star also shines brightly. People are mentioning Britt at the very top of the list of contenders to succeed U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, whenever the venerable senator does decide to call it quits.

Well, when you’re right, you’re right.

Britt was thrown into the fire in 2019 when she took the helm as president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama. And, like the phoenix out of the ashes, her vibrant leadership has seen the BCA reborn anew, transformed for the betterment of its member businesses and hardworking families across the state of Alabama.

Very quietly, Britt has rebuilt BCA piece-by-piece into an organization that in mission and function is totally different from just three years ago. While still operating as the state’s foremost advocacy organization for businesses of all sizes and sectors, Britt’s BCA has also become more member-facing, now putting an overarching priority on ensuring Alabama businesses have the resources, tools and expertise at their fingerprints to thrive in a 21st-century economy.

Her tenure at BCA has coincided with record bests for Alabama in key economic measurables, including unemployment and businesses confidence.

However, while she has certainly helped make the good times even better when it comes to the state’s recent success, her legacy at BCA might boil down to the past 14 months, as Britt was the tip of the spear when it came to tirelessly advocating for businesses and employees during the historic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the list of initiatives, conversations and meetings Britt was an integral part of on behalf of Alabama jobs this past year or so could fill a chapter in a book, there is one example that cannot be passed up. Britt launched and championed the Keep Alabama Open campaign in November; as other states shut down, this effort led to our state staying open safely and responsibly, allowing hardworking Alabamians to safeguard their lives and livelihoods.

The results are clear. Alabama currently boasts the lowest unemployment rate in the Southeast and one of the best in the nation. Meanwhile, the state’s COVID numbers are also among the nation’s lowest. We’re open for business and poised to bounce back to reach greater heights than before the pandemic.

Britt is Alabama’s brightest rising star, and regardless of what comes next, her continued leadership is a reason for optimism that our state’s best days are ahead.

6. Greg Reed

What we said in 2019: When you get into the upper echelon of power players, distinguishing traits become even more important. Greg Reed has exhibited many on his way up the tower of influence and into the position of majority leader for the Alabama Senate.

What we said in 2019 no longer holds true for Greg Reed.

To clarify, the part about him having distinguishing traits of a power player is truer than ever. However, Reed has taken that last giant leap in his chamber and now serves as the president pro tempore of the Alabama Senate.

Having assumed the office earlier this year, Reed is now the most powerful member of the legislature’s upper chamber.

None of this is a surprise, either. He is a natural leader who has a discernible presence about him. And now he is running the show.

As pro tem, he oversees every aspect of the legislative process in the Senate. From committee assignments to legislative priorities to the time of adjournment. Reed is in control.

In 2011, a swell of new legislators flooded the halls of the statehouse after having been elected the previous fall. Reed is the first among them to rise to the top of the power structure in their respective chambers.

Hindsight makes it plausible to have pegged Reed as the first to do so. He entered the building confident in his abilities and his having earned the right to be there. But not too confident in the way that would create problems with his colleagues.

Reed understands the political process in a way that few others do. Furthermore, he is highly attuned to the public policy challenges which Alabama currently faces and has a knack for carefully weighing solutions to any problem. He is particularly adept at understanding the state’s economic and workforce needs.

Only a few months into the job, these things probably forecast his leadership style in the years to come. What is certain is that Reed now occupies elite status among Alabama’s most powerful and influential people.

5. Joe Perkins

What we said in 2019: Joe Perkins is unspeakably powerful and influential. So much so – and in such a way – that we probably should not even be speaking about it.

One cannot help but marvel at the depth and breadth of Joe Perkins’ impact on Alabama politics.

It is especially remarkable considering his specialized approach. In practical terms, it is difficult to describe what he does because discretion is so fundamental to his business model.

Perkins is Alabama’s top political and corporate strategist. That much we do know.

While a visible client list exists only behind the tightly secured walls at Matrix, Perkins’ firm which he founded, he is known to represent a variety of interests. These run the gamut from some of the state’s largest companies to individuals who sought him out because they had a problem to solve.

With a reputation for having nearly unlimited intellectual capacity, he is constrained only by the number of hours in a day.

The tools he has at his disposal are both comprehensive and largely uncatalogued. There are entire collections of people, companies and interests which he quietly guides to the ultimate benefit of his clients.

A wide range of campaigns, initiatives and public and corporate policy have been shaped by Perkins’ involvement in recent years even as the man and his methods fall more into the realm of the mysterious.

Perhaps reputation truly is the cornerstone of power.

4. Mac McCutcheon

What we said in 2019: McCutcheon has dedicated his life to the people of Alabama. From protecting and serving as a career law enforcement officer in Huntsville to leading the rambunctious lower chamber of the Alabama legislature, McCutcheon has led with integrity and compassion every step of the way.

The 66th speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives has become a stalwart leader during some of the state’s most trying times in recent memory.

Mac McCutcheon’s ability to project stability and follow a common-sense approach to governing has led to gains for the Yellowhammer State and to his own strengthened position in the speaker’s chair.

McCutcheon is one of the all-time good guys who (oh, by the way) controls coveted committee assignments and the legislative process.

He hails from the technology-rich Tennessee Valley, and he has a healthy respect for the aerospace and defense industry, its benefit to the state and its importance to America.

This may partly explain why McCutcheon feels so strongly about responding to Alabama’s infrastructure needs to keep pace with the demands of a 21st-century economy.

He also listens to his members, though. As speaker of the House, he has been responsive to the needs of his members – a crucial aspect of holding down one of the single most powerful positions in Alabama. That’s why when there are roads and bridges across the state that need attention, or gaps in broadband access, McCutcheon thinks big to fix the problem.

His legacy is beginning to take shape as that of a public servant with a sincere desire to utilize his power and influence for the betterment of his entire state.

3. Jo Bonner

What we said in 2019: There are very few people who have served Alabama in a more exemplary way this century than Jo Bonner. Congressman. Vice-chancellor for the University of Alabama System. And now the immensely powerful and influential chief of staff to Governor Kay Ivey.

Jo Bonner is one of the most gifted power players the state has seen in a long time.

His versatility in the political world is virtually unmatched. He was a five-term congressman from the Gulf Coast and served as vice chancellor in the University of Alabama System.

He could easily be a candidate for a major statewide office. In our analysis of potential U.S. Senate candidates earlier this year, we wrote of Bonner, “He exudes statesman qualities.”

In the next sentence, we wrote, “He has been as active on Alabama’s pressing issues as possibly any chief of staff to the governor, ever.”

Therein lies the reason for his sky-high position on this list and maybe the reason why he would resist a return to electoral politics. Bonner is as powerful and influential as anyone who has been similarly situated inside of a governor’s office.

Governor Kay Ivey’s unwavering trust in Bonner is the foundation of his elevated status. Ivey counts on Bonner to implement her agenda on a daily basis.

Seldom does one person in politics have the skill set Bonner possesses. He has a mastery of political communications and a thorough understanding of public policy. Following years of exposure to national political figures, he is awed by very little.

Known as a stickler for always having a plan of action, Bonner assuredly has designs on his next power move.

2. Zeke Smith

What we said in 2019: One of the most impressive and useful traits that Smith displays is an unmatched capacity. His knowledge of Alabama Power’s massive operation extends to every corner of its business. Layered on top of that is a continual awareness of Alabama’s political climate, its power players and what makes each tick.

In the governmental affairs domain, Alabama Power is at the top of its game.

Zeke Smith, as executive vice president of External Affairs, has overseen the company’s current run of success as the state’s leading corporate citizen in politics and public policy.

Smith is tasked with a vast array of responsibilities all of which have an appreciable impact on his company’s position with policymakers and elected officials. Everything from lobbying to public relations to regulatory affairs to charitable giving falls on Smith’s desk.

Each of those areas of the company’s activity are intertwined with the next which is why handling them requires the type of comprehensive approach that Smith has employed.

The Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame inductee has assembled a team of unrivaled talent and installed an aggressive but well-planned process befitting his background.

Smith has an innate ability to see over the horizon and understand the conditions which will impact his company’s mission to grow Alabama’s economy, create jobs and broaden its customer base. Always looking for avenues to improve the state’s competitive advantages, he was appointed by the governor to chair Alabama’s Workforce Council, and he serves on the College and Career Ready Task Force.

He fields a steady stream of calls from those wanting to enhance their own positions on the political ladder. Elected officials and other power players around the state have taken notice of Smith’s leadership on issues they know will help them.

To paraphrase a well-tested maxim, much is to be gained from the dependence of others on one’s power and influence.

1. Kay Ivey

What we said in 2019: Governor Kay Ellen Ivey will go down as one of the most consequential leaders in Alabama history. And she’s not even close to being finished yet. From the second she put her hand on the Bible and became the state’s 54th governor, Ivey has been laser focused on governing and nothing else.

It has been nearly four decades since Alabama has seen a brand as strong as Kay Ivey’s in state politics.

After 20 consecutive years holding statewide elected office, Ivey remains wildly popular and seemingly unsusceptible to attacks aimed at diminishing her standing. Her lofty approval ratings have given her the freedom and confidence to engage on some of the most precarious issues the state is facing.

Ivey kicked off her first full term in office by taking control of a long-awaited infrastructure initiative, tapping into her vast reserve of political capital to pass the Rebuild Alabama Act. She has tackled other thorny issues such as updating the state’s prison system and expanding broadband access. Her handling of the COVID-19 crisis has drawn praise from both ends of the political spectrum.

Ivey has now found her next major undertaking in the form of the comprehensive gambling legislation. Her elevated involvement has been pivotal to the movement of the package through the Alabama Legislature.

There is a long list of individuals who have thought they could get the upper hand on Ivey. It is difficult to even find one of them for whom it ended well. That’s one of the classic traits of a truly powerful and influential person.

With reelection in 2022 all but assured, the Ivey brand is poised to assume a place of high honor in the pantheon of Alabama politics.

See 31-40 here.
See 21-30 here.
See 11-20 here.

2 weeks ago

7 Things: Ivey thinks states should lift the mandate she recently lifted, largest-ever General Fund passes, Democrats’ left-wing wants Biden to go further and more …

7. The Auburn coaching family has some thoughts on politics 

  • Former Auburn head football coach and current U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) was asked by TMZ about athletes and their political opinions, and he said doesn’t want to hear them. Tuberville stated, “Nobody’s looking for an outspoken person,” adding, “[w]e’re too divided as it is.”
  • On the other hand, current Auburn head basketball coach Bruce Pearl is under fire for daring to praise U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) and his rebuttal to President Joe Biden’s joint address to Congress by tweeting, “Tim Scott made sense, he spoke with truth, passion and sincerity!” This has drawn the fire of political pundit wannabee and lockdown fetishist Dan Wolken at USA Today and others suggesting black people can’t play for conservatives, including one praising a black U.S. senator who dares to be a Republican.

6. Tuberville met with Bill Nelson

587

  • Former U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) is President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead NASA, and U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) attended a meeting with Nelson to “ensure he knows the contributions the Huntsville area makes to the industry.”
  • Tuberville advised that Nelson told him, “You really have the juice in Huntsville” in a discussion about space. He added, “Nelson is clearly committed to the Artemis program and knows how important Marshall Space Flight Center is to NASA’s mission.”

5. Another candidate for the Fifth Congressional District announced

  • Former assistant secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs and Superintendent of Huntsville City Schools Dr. Casey Wardynski, Ph.D., has announced his candidacy for the 5th Congressional District. 
  • Wardynski said he’s running “to continue the work President Trump began,” and added that there are too many “weak Republicans who want higher taxes, who promote the cancel culture, and who refuse to fight back against the socialist movement.” 

4. Police are more popular than Biden

  • Despite the push to defund police, a new survey published by NBC News shows that police are viewed by 58% of people positively, while President Joe Biden was only viewed the same by 50%. 
  • Major League Baseball was also featured in the poll, with 34% positive, the Democrat Party was at 39%, the Republican Party polled at 32% and former President Donald Trump was at 32%. 

3. No one is hiding how far-left Biden’s policies are

  • As President Joe Biden has repeatedly laid out massive spending packages, with the latest being his $4 trillion infrastructure plans, progressives like U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) are touting the spending plans by saying, “That’s the power of organizing, let’s keep going.”
  • U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) also wants to give credit “to the countless activists, organizers, and advocates” who worked for these policies and to “Keep going.” U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) also credited “organizers” and added, “This is a once in a generation moment for government to deliver.”

2. Largest-ever General Fund Budget passes

  • In a unanimous vote, the Alabama State Senate has passed the General Fund appropriations package that includes five bills. This will be the largest General Fund budget ever in Alabama at $2,482,799,471, which is a 3.74% increase from 2020. 
  • Included in the package is the creation of the Coalition Against Domestic Violence, a 2% raise for state employees, the Children First Trust Fund, the supplemental General Fund appropriations bill and fiscal year 2022 General Fund Budget. The fiscal year budget was sent back to the House for concurrence, which it didn’t receive and has now gone back to committee, while the other four bills go to Governor Kay Ivey to be signed. 

1. Alabama had mandates in place until earlier this month

  • Governor Kay Ivey had some criticism for blue states when it comes to getting citizens to take the coronavirus vaccine, and in an interview with Fox News, Ivey said keeping strict government mandates in place does little to encourage people to get vaccinated.
  • Ivey said that not allowing fully vaccinated people to go without some precautions “is, to put it simply, against the science and definitely not incentivizing for individuals to get their shots.” Ivey also stated, “Endless government mandates are not the answer.” This is interesting given that Governor Kay Ivey kept Alabama under a mask mandate until three weeks ago.

2 weeks ago

2021 POWER & INFLUENCE 40: Numbers 11-20

(YHN)

It would stand to reason that the most powerful and influential media outlet in Alabama would have a keen sense of which state political figures fit the same bill.

That’s why Yellowhammer Multimedia, once again, is publishing its Power and Influence 40.

Taking into account countless conversations with political insiders, as well as the most recent developments in politics and public policy, the list is meant to recognize the top individuals in government and politics who leverage their power and influence on behalf of those they represent and the Yellowhammer State.

The ranked list is being released in four segments. Today we announce the individuals who comprise numbers 11 through 20. Numbers 31-40 and numbers 21-30 have already been published.

Welcome to a peek behind the curtain.

2406

20. Houston Smith

What we said in 2019: From his position on Yellowhammer’s Power and Influence 40, Smith can look up and see some of his predecessors. Given his ambition and rare intellect, he would be well-served to prepare for a similarly steep career trajectory.

If there were ever a public servant in the private sector, it is Houston Smith.

Take his mindset toward service and blend it together with Alabama Power’s sustained strength in the governmental affairs realm, and you get one of the 20 most powerful and influential people in the state.

Smith has extraordinary vision and a genuine desire to see his home state of Alabama reach new heights.

Having worked to build relationships that matter like so many of his peers on this list, Smith’s ability to think big and apply that vision presents a differential trait. His persistent focus on concepts for growing the economy and enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians has become second nature. In examining Smith’s approach, one cannot help but recall Isaac Newton’s remark: “If I have done the public any service, it is due to my patient thought.”

The state of Alabama has benefitted from Smith’s role in politics and public policy in recent years, and in the process, he has become entrenched on this list.

19. Twinkle Cavanaugh

Twinkle Cavanaugh has built one of the most trusted brands in Alabama politics.

In 2020, she received 1.38 million votes, the most by a non-presidential candidate in Alabama history. Few things send a stronger signal of a formidable statewide presence than that kind of stout vote tally.

It is also evidence of how Yellowhammer State residents have gone from viewing her as the woman with the memorable name to one they can count on.

Never someone to back down from a fight, Cavanaugh believes that acting in the best interest of her beloved state and the people she serves will inevitably require making someone mad. Most often, she draws the ire of out-of-state lawyers and activists during their annual pilgrimage to the Alabama Public Service Commission.

This is a good lesson for aspiring elected officials: taking a hard stand only makes you stronger.

Farmers, miners, manufacturers and main street Alabama are among those who call on Cavanaugh’s leadership to help keep the state’s economy humming.

There will be no shortage of options for her to build upon her statewide electoral achievements.

18. Nathaniel Ledbetter

What we said in 2019: His rise to power has been almost meteoric. Elected to the House in 2014, he became the Republican leader in the chamber almost two full years before the end of his first term. A former mayor of Rainsville, this DeKalb Countian has carved out his role as a staunch conservative and tireless champion for rural Alabama.

Yellowhammer began receiving some pretty strong returns on Nathaniel Ledbetter following the 2019 legislative session.

Statehouse insiders recited instances of the House Majority Leader flexing his muscle to ensure the success of some of the legislature’s biggest priorities in recent memory, including Rebuild Alabama and broadband expansion. Those who witnessed his work spoke with some amount of awe and a heavy dose of respect.

Maybe everyone should have seen Ledbetter’s ascent coming, but that’s not the way he would have wanted it. He goes about his work not looking for any fanfare, only endeavoring to take care of the people in his Tennessee Valley district and to leave behind a better state.

In the interim, he has bolstered the role of the majority leader within the House of Representatives. In recent years it had evolved into a largely ceremonial position. That is not the case under Ledbetter’s leadership.

He has taken a far more aggressive approach and results have followed. A shrewd operator and exceptional strategist, Ledbetter is driving in the fast lane of power and influence.

17. Greg Albritton

What we said in 2019: Greg Albritton is an old-school legislator trapped in a second-termer’s body. He is particularly clever in how he goes about working his issues and navigating the legislative process. And he is dogged in pursuit of passing his legislative priorities.

For students of statehouse politics, it’s always a treat to observe Greg Albritton’s wry smile at the microphone, a gesture that usually signals something is amiss.

He is proficient in the art of offering up the rhetorically shiny object, all the while going after what he wants like a boulder rolling downhill or digging in for a long night of trench warfare.

Parliamentary fun aside, Albritton stands out even more so because of his willingness to handle the general fund and the institutional baggage that a chairman has to deal with in the budget that keeps state government agencies in operation. Difficult decisions have to be made in order to efficiently administer the $2.4 billion budget. Those are decisions from which Albritton has not shied.

He’s tough and fair and a conservative reformer at heart. Alabama is in a better place with Albritton in charge of its general fund budget.

16. Steve Marshall

What we said in 2019: A career prosecutor with a true passion for serving as attorney general, he is one of the most real elected officials you will ever meet. From that authenticity comes a level of power and influence that politics cannot manufacture.

It may not be possible for Steve Marshall – or anyone, for that matter – to do a better job than he already is performing.

He is batting a thousand when it comes to decision-making, law enforcement and standing up for Alabama on the national level.

Marshall has challenged the constitutionality of court-packing, fought for religious liberty and against public corruption. He has taken President Joe Biden to task for killing energy jobs and creating a border crisis.

He has surrounded himself with a talented, highly qualified team inside the attorney general’s office, and he is predictably popular in the law enforcement community and among his conservative base. Yet, he is not the least bit scared to take a principled stand in the face of criticism.

The formula is there for Marshall to continue increasing his stature in state politics

15. Steve Windom

What we said in 2019: He is a tireless worker, but the real marvel is his deep, ever-growing network of connections on and around Goat Hill. From administrative support staff to lifelong civil servants all the way up the halls of power, Windom knows just about everybody by name – and works his Rolodex non-stop.

Former elected officials who enter the lobbying world have to overcome the unfamiliarity of being the one in pursuit. Unlike the glamorous (and false) depictions of lobbying activity, the practice involves a lot of standing in line and hanging around. That’s a tough adjustment for some who are used to being the ones who make the lobbyists wait.

That has never been a problem for Steve Windom.

Renown for his work ethic, Windom frequently sends emails and texts at all hours of the night and starts making calls as soon as the sun is up. He is usually one of the first to arrive at the statehouse in the morning and zips around the place like it is his first year on the job.

Then there are his relationships. There is seemingly no one Windom does not know.

Windom’s connections to elected officials are deep given his prodigious fundraising abilities. Go to an obscure office in any state agency, and you will probably find someone whom he knows and with whom he has banked a relationship — just in case.

The former lieutenant governor and state senator has found a worthy running mate in one-time House of Representatives Rules Committee Chairman Blaine Galliher. Together they have changed the narrative about former members and have made their firm, Windom Galliher & Associates, a heavyweight in the Alabama governmental affairs market.

A member of the business community who is not currently a principal recently remarked to us, “If I was going to hire a lobbyist, I would hire Steve Windom.”

Windom flies in some pretty thin air as one of Alabama’s most successful contract lobbyists.

14. Arthur Orr

What we said in 2019: If someone wanted to make a movie about the story of the deliberative upper chamber, Orr might be the best choice to go on the poster. He has an incredible tolerance for details and is methodical in all of his actions. He is representative of the chamber’s approach to governing.

Arthur Orr is one of the two people in charge of the largest pot of money in the state of Alabama.

Orr is the state senate’s chairman overseeing the nearly $7.7 billion education budget. Carrying the weight of that checkbook around in his suit pocket affords him an elite level of power and influence.

Every school district, all of the state’s public institutions of higher education and countless education-related programs depend upon Orr’s fiscal decisions on an annual basis. The steady stream of advocates from those entities marching into his office to state their case for funding is illustrative of why he maintains an elevated position on this list.

The Decatur native and Wake Forest graduate is one of four remaining state senators who served as Republicans in the minority. That experience is still visible in the way Orr conducts his business in the upper chamber.

A bit more circumspect than most, Orr works to avoid getting pinned down on any issue when dealing with his fellow senators and the building’s many lobbyists. He also frequently returns to his roots as one of the original conservative reformers as he chases ABC privatization and welfare reform during most sessions.

Chairing the education budget committee, and years of legislative experience, provide a potent combination resulting in power and influence for Orr.

13. Jabo Waggoner

What we said in 2019: Jabo Waggoner is always the coolest guy in any room. He possesses a magnetism which has served him to near perfection throughout his political career. He’s the gentlemen senator and the smoothest of operators, but mainly people just want to be around him.

The one-man institution that is Jabo Waggoner continues to function in a most impressive fashion.

The Senate Rules Committee chairman is the epicenter of pretty much everything in his chamber. He sets the calendar. If you are a lobbyist, your bill receives no consideration without the approval of Waggoner. That is an immensely powerful and influential place to be if you are him.

The reality is, though, that as much as everyone wants to be like him, none of us are. You can’t force cool. You can’t fake importance. As much as young legislators want to grow up and be like Jabo, it is just never going to happen.

Waggoner is simply one of one.

An Alabama Sports Hall of Fame Distinguished Sportsman, Waggoner’s popularity among his colleagues is matched only by that in his over-the-mountain district. One of his constituents contacted Yellowhammer recently and told us, “I’ve been begging Jabo to run again. We couldn’t ask for a better senator than him, and he’s an important asset for our state.”

Waggoner is an all-time great.

12. Robbie McGhee

What we said in 2019: McGhee brings a certain intensity to his representation not prevalent in the everyday machinations of the statehouse. It means something when he walks into the building, and other people know when he is there. That in itself is a sure sign of power and influence.

Whether people want to admit it or not, gambling legislation in Alabama goes through the Poarch Band of Creek Indians – including the 2021 version so heavily debated.

And the person at the center of all that wrangling is Robbie McGhee.

As the elected vice chairman of the Tribal Council, McGhee represents the tribe in what he calls “government-to-government” at the local, state and federal levels.

He has done a stellar job at that.

Prior to becoming a heavy hitter in Alabama politics, he worked in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Department of Interior-Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and Troutman Sanders LLP-Indian Law Practice Group.

Bringing that experience to bear in the state of Alabama has been critical to his effectiveness. And he has the full weight of the Tribe behind him as they have established a thriving international company headquartered right here in the Yellowhammer State. This success has sprung a healthy corporate citizenship through charitable endeavors, job creation and electioneering.

All of these things translate into an uninterrupted presence at the highest levels of state policymaking for McGhee.

11. Bob Geddie

What we said in 2019: It has been said that Joe Fine invented lobbying in Alabama. That being well established, his longtime business partner Bob Geddie may have just perfected the craft. Bob Geddie’s uninterrupted run on the mountain top of the Alabama lobbying world is one for the history books.

Geddie has exhibited every element of a successful lobbying practice for decades.

His tactical lobbying skills are born out of a precise knowledge of the process and the players. He knows every member, every rule and every tactic necessary to pass legislation through the Alabama legislature, and he works just as easily throughout the executive branch.

When he gets a legislator one-on-one for a final pitch on an issue it invariably goes in the Fine Geddie win column.

Recounting such a persuasive encounter, one House member told us, “I’ve been on the receiving end of Bob Geddie’s pitch a bunch of times. He doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer unless that’s the way he actually wants you to vote. I’ve never had anybody quite like him lobby me on issues.”

Unlike many governmental affairs specialists, his clients are practically part of his firm. He is a trusted advisor to some of Alabama’s titans of industry, and they are his friends. Nearly all have empowered him to make campaign finance decisions for them through a network of Geddie-controlled political action committees.

His firm’s client list is the envy of the industry. He has a track record of supreme success.

Bob Geddie lands on the list as 2021’s most powerful and influential contract lobbyist.

Check back on Friday for the next segment: 1-10

See 31-40 here.
See 21-30 here.

2 weeks ago

7 Things: Biden speaks to some of Congress, Alabama congressional delegation bash Biden address, businesses need workers as coronavirus pandemic fades and more …

7. Alabama bill would make daylight savings time permanent

  • The Alabama House Economics Development and Tourism Committee has approved a bill that would make daylight savings time in Alabama permanent, but ultimately Congress has the final say even if Governor Kay Ivey signs the bill. 
  • There are 15 states that have already passed similar legislation, with seven of those states doing so last year. There were questions in committee about how this could impact time zones, but the legislation was still approved. 

6. Rudy Giuliani’s apartment raided to the media’s delight

842

  • The raid into former President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, is under investigation concerning his activities in Ukraine while he pursued an investigation linked to Trump’s primary political rival, President Joe Biden. Giuliani hasn’t been charged and has denied wrongdoing. His son said, “The only piece of evidence that they did not take up there today was the only piece of incriminating evidence that is in there—and it does not belong to my father, it belongs to the current president’s son.”
  • In the good ol’ days of 2020, the search of a former president’s lawyer’s home would be a scandal that would bring cries of a politicized Department of Justice, but not in 2021. Instead, the attempt to nail Giuliani for being an unregistered foreign agent, something President Joe Biden’s son clearly did too, is praised and treated as a great moment.

5. Amazon union election could be set aside

  • According to the National Labor Relations Board, the election over forming a union at the Bessemer Amazon fulfillment center could be nullified due to evidence submitted by the Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union. This was an election they lost by a more than 2-to-1 margin.
  • There will be a hearing on May 7 to consider the evidence and objections made by the union, and the labor board said their “objections could be grounds for overturning the election if introduced at a hearing.”

4. We will help kids catch up by not implementing accountability standards

  • In 2019, the Alabama Legislature passed a bill called the “Literacy Act of 2019,” and its intent was to make sure that kids could read at an early level before promoting them and setting them up for failure. After a global pandemic that has changed the way schools operate, some lawmakers have proposed that keeping kids who can’t read back might not be such a good idea and we should just promote them. 
  • State Senator Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) has suggested that educators want this delay implemented but all that would do is promote kids who are not ready to succeed to the next level. State Rep. Charlotte Meadows (R-Montgomery) accurately noted, “To give everybody a pass for two more years is really going to be damaging to the third graders that are now second graders,” adding, “We can’t let them move forward if they can’t read.”

3. Economic optimism is on the rise in Alabama as COVID-19 subsides

  • The coronavirus vaccine is continuing to work in Alabama, and new cases and deaths continue to drop as shots go into arms, but according to Suzanne Judd, Ph.D., an epidemiologist in UAB’s School of Public Health, “we need to hit 3.5 million people in Alabama with immunity.” As of now, 42% of adults have received one dose of a vaccine with 30% are fully vaccinated.
  • As we return to normal, the Business Council of Alabama is pointing out that there are currently 66,500 job openings in Alabama as the unemployment rate continues to drop and employers expect that trend to continue.

2. Biden gives his first address

  • President Joe Biden has delivered his first address to Congress, but there were some U.S. Senators who skipped the event, including Tom Cotton (R-AR), Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Marco Rubio (R-FL). In his speech, Biden laid out details for his upcoming $4+ trillion infrastructure, pre-K, community college and child care plans.
  • He also referred to the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 as “the worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War,” which is totally true, unless you count the four assassination attempts, the 1915 Capitol bombing, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the 1954 shooting by Puerto Rican nationalists, the 1971 Weather Underground bombing, the 1983 M19 bombing, the Oklahoma City bombing and the September 11t attacks as threats to our democracy. Democrats also baselessly challenged the elections of 2000 and 2016 from the U.S. Capitol.

1. Alabama’s delegation responds to Biden speech

  • President Biden’s speech may have gone over fantastically in the media and with people that want a new era of big government, but the state of Alabama’s congressional delegation has a significantly different take. U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) said this was about “[Biden’s] version of socialism,” while U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) stated, “President Biden continues to govern counter to what he promised in his inaugural address when he pledged to not be a partisan President. Instead, he is pushing a liberal, wish list, spending frenzy that Franklin Roosevelt could never have dreamed of and sending the American taxpayer the bill.”
  • Alabama’s senior U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) warned that the agenda by this president was not one of unity. He declared, “Tonight’s address from President Biden was focused on drastically changing the country, but instead of reaching across the aisle to find ways to work together, this Administration is prioritizing liberal policies and a partisan agenda.”

2 weeks ago

2021 POWER & INFLUENCE 40: Numbers 21-30

It would stand to reason that the most powerful and influential media outlet in Alabama would have a keen sense of which state political figures fit the same bill.

That’s why Yellowhammer Multimedia, once again, is publishing its Power and Influence 40.

Taking into account countless conversations with political insiders, as well as the most recent developments in politics and public policy, the list is meant to recognize the top individuals in government and politics who leverage their power and influence on behalf of those they represent and the Yellowhammer State.

The ranked list is being released in four segments. Today we announce the individuals who comprise numbers 21 through 30. The first segment, numbers 31-40 has already been published.

Welcome to a peek behind the curtain.

1652

30. Mike Cole

What we said in 2019: He’s a big-game hunter when it comes to clients. Cole counts some of the state’s largest employers among his client base. His roots in Huntsville have allowed him to serve as a go-to connection in Montgomery for many of the state’s tech leaders.

It feels as if every year we utilize this space to describe in some way the stealthy nature by which Mike Cole goes about his business of influencing the political process in Alabama. Then, throughout the subsequent 12 months, we discover more previously unknown issues or situations through which he is moving the needle on behalf of his clients.

This is one of the surest measures of determining someone is in the upper echelon of the industry. Very quietly being a serious mover and shaker keeps the competition off-guard and creates a clearer path for your clients to achieve success.

Look closely enough, and you will find that Cole delves into everything from health care to utility regulation to economic development to county and municipal issues.

With his vast experience, and the manner in which he goes about his work, Cole will remain one of Alabama’s power players for as long as he so desires.

29. Clay Scofield

Clay Scofield is becoming a regular on lists in Alabama politics.

He first appeared earlier this year on a list assessing the likelihood of potential U.S. Senate campaigns. At the time we wrote, “He is still young with plenty out ahead of him, but the man is a pure political animal.”

The reality is that the newly-installed Senate Majority Leader will see himself included in any sort of list judging stature among the Yellowhammer State’s political leaders.

Scofield has championed the cause of rural broadband expansion, one of the state’s most pressing public policy needs. He also relishes both the operational aspects of politics and the behind-the-scenes maneuvering required to gain traction in the legislature’s deliberative body.

Regardless of whether he maintains his track on the state level or diverts to the federal level, Scofield will have “plenty out ahead of him.”

28. Dave Stewart

What we said in 2019: Dave Stewart has laid out the blueprint for how a law firm’s lobbying practice can prosper and leverage influence in every corner of state government. In doing so, he has led his firm’s governmental affairs practice to entirely new heights.

One would think there is not a whole lot left for Dave Stewart to conquer.

He has been successful in business, on Capitol Hill, as chief of staff to the governor of Alabama and now heading up the governmental affairs practice for one of the Southeast’s largest law firms. And, still, Stewart has shown an unwavering focus on delivering for his clients and moving his home state of Alabama forward.

Tackling economic development, tax laws, education policy and more on behalf of international businesses and local initiatives, there is no issue or corner of state government out of Stewart’s reach.

At this point in his career, Stewart has the expertise to solve almost any problem a client brings through the door with his eyes closed. That’s how someone keeps a standing reservation on a list like this.

27. Steve Raby

North Alabama is riding a hot streak, and Steve Raby is emblematic of its rise in recent years.

The Huntsville-Madison area is home to the Speaker of the House, as well as his trusted confidante and savvy political operator – Raby.

Unsurprisingly, Raby represents some of the key entities in the area and has ensured their priority status in the policymaking process.

One of Raby’s strengths is his ability to convey to legislative leadership the electoral implications of each of their major moves. And his work on state-level House races puts him in an exceptional position relative to his peers in the industry.

Putting together that special combination of relationships and added value makes Raby an extraordinarily powerful and influential figure.

26. Steve Clouse

What we said in 2019: This veteran cat wrangler oversees one of state government’s biggest annual headaches – the general fund – for the House.

Serving as chairman of the General Fund Committee brings with it the requisite power and influence to receive the label of top-shelf power player. The general fund is a $2.4 billion state budget, and Clouse shepherded through his chamber the largest-ever version of it this session.

Clouse carries all the qualities of a statesman. He is patient, prudent and experienced.

However, he also knows when to draw the line and tell a stakeholder, agency head or fellow legislator to take it or leave it.

Those traits keep him among the state’s most powerful and influential year after year.

25. Ted Hosp

What we said in 2019: Hosp has probably written more pieces of legislation that are now Alabama law than anyone in the statehouse would like to admit.

Practicing lawyers generally do not have the best grasp of politics and the policymaking process.

Ted Hosp has been an exception throughout his career. He has an acute understanding of what it takes to protect or advance a client’s interest in what can be a complex web of personalities and methods.

And this is the reason why he has gone from serving as the lead partner for the Maynard, Cooper & Gale governmental affairs practice to vice president of governmental affairs for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, a company that has 3 million members and employs 3,600 people.

As Hosp has gotten busy delivering wins for Blue Cross, his position in politics continues to strengthen.

24. Ginger Avery-Buckner

What we said in 2019: Gifted with a friendly, engaging personality, she can flip to all-business mode in a hurry in front of someone whose issue contains the wrong color-code on her legislative spreadsheet.

Maybe this has been stated before: “Practicing lawyers generally do not have the best grasp of politics and the policymaking process.”

In fairness to Avery-Buckner’s Alabama Association of Justice members, politics is not their business. They are litigators. Their expertise lies in their ability to operate within the civil justice system.

But, goodness, have they found the right person to represent them inside the political process.

Channeling her tenacity towards advocacy and awareness of anything which could affect her members, Avery-Buckner has exactly what it takes to run the state’s leading legal organization.

The impact of Avery-Buckner’s work continues to be felt throughout Alabama politics and its court system.

23. R.B. Walker

What we said in 2019: Walker’s profile could easily have been something drawn up in a lab. He is tenacious in pursuit of results, disciplined in his approach and never distracted by the noise that can often consume the energy of others in the world of state governmental affairs.

R.B. Walker is well on his way to indelibly stamping his name into Alabama political lore the way several others on this list already have.

Walker is driven to succeed. There are no days off for him. Frankly, there may not even be any hours off. The number of leaders and influencers with whom Walker has built a lasting relationship could fill Bryant-Denny to the brim.

And the quantity of information Walker absorbs in a day exceeds that which most governmental affairs professionals gather during an entire legislative session. It’s how he is essentially able to capture satellite imagery of the political landscape and properly equip Alabama Power to make policy decisions.

Subsequent generations of political players are going to talk about Walker and his power and influence.

22. Clay Ryan

What we said in 2019: The University of Alabama might soon need to make room for another star in its “Where Legends Are Made” lineup.

Clay Ryan’s inclusion on this list of the state’s most powerful and influential political figures was one of the easiest calls.

When any serious candidate decides to run for political office in the Yellowhammer State, it does not take long before they are attempting to gain an audience with Ryan.

And the text of his title as Senior Vice Chancellor for External Affairs does not even do his role proper justice. Ryan is the gatekeeper for one of the state’s largest employers when it comes to all things related to politics and economic development. Also charged with oversight of the System’s public relations effort, there are times when carefully crafted messages come directly from him.

Ryan will undoubtedly return to his position on this list on an annual basis.

21. Dax Swatek

What we said in 2019: In the same way Frank Stitt rolls up his sleeves when asked to plan a seven-course meal, Swatek is the guy people come to when they want to know all the ingredients to success and stay six steps ahead the whole time.

Dax Swatek is committed to the process.

Whether earlier in his career when he was a sought-after campaign consultant, or in the succeeding years as he built an impressive lobbying practice, his strength has been found in a natural ability to chart a path for success on behalf of his clients.

Swatek’s experience has allowed him to occupy some rather exclusive territory when it comes to merging electoral politics and public policy.

He is skillful at interpreting complex polling data and using it to gain the upper hand in a policy fight. Through his campaign experience, he has developed a knack for sharp messaging which has proven vital to clients and sets him apart from many other lobbyists.

Armed with a high-profile client list and the smarts it takes to deliver, expect Swatek to continue being a major player.

Check back on Thursday for the next segment: 11-20

See 31-40 here.

2 weeks ago

7 Things: Biden finally says you can do what you were already doing with masks, Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be used in Alabama after foolish pause, constitutional carry bill advances and more …

7. Some in Alabama will be paid to get vaccinated

  • Yesterday, West Virginia said the state will give young people $100 savings bonds to get vaccinated, and some private businesses are following suit. The Brass Tap in Huntsville has told their employees that they’ll receive a $100 Visa card if they get the coronavirus vaccine. There are currently four employees that have completed their vaccination, but more are scheduled. 
  • Co-owner Chris Ray said they’re “trying to find a way to incentivize them and just show them we do appreciate them and their health matters to us, and to ensure the safety of not only our employees, but our guests as well.”

6. Large portions of Alabama chosen as a defense manufacturing community

715

  • The Department of Defense worked with Redstone Arsenal and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) to name a 22-county area that will be known as the Alabama Defense Advanced Manufacturing Community, one of five in the country. 
  • The Defense Manufacturing Community Support Program has granted UAH $3.7 million, and UAH will help coordinate to pull together existing programs throughout the state while establishing the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation and Integration Center (AMIIC) in Huntsville. 

5. Education budget passes House

  • The $7.7 billion education budget has been passed by the Alabama House of Representatives. This budget is a 6% increase from the previous year. 
  • There were small changes made to the bill so it will go back to the State Senate where it’s previously been passed. Local boards of education are getting a 5% increase in funding, the Alabama Community College System gets 10% additional funding and the First Class Pre-K program will get 19% more funding. 

4. Constitutional carry and a ban on local enforcement of some federal gun laws advance

  • Legislation that would protect against federal gun control, the Alabama Second Amendment Preservation Act, and would also allow carrying a gun without a permit has advanced out of committee in the Alabama House of Representatives. 
  • There are concerns for the “constitutional carry” legislation since Governor Kay Ivey has already signed the bill that allows the purchase of lifetime concealed carry permits. Rhonda Pendleton, a volunteer for the Alabama chapter of Moms Demand Action, spoke about Alabama Second Amendment Preservation Act, which forbids local law enforcement from enforcing some federal gun laws, and claimed, “[T]hese hypocritical lawmakers have gone back on their clearly-empty promises to support law enforcement.”

3. Biden’s proposed spending binge continues

  • During an address to some in Congress, President Joe Biden is expected to propose an additional $1.8 trillion plan that will pay for free universal preschool, free community college and allow for “expanded access” to child care. This is his latest announcement for a series of spending proposals that could cost multiple trillions of dollars.
  • Now, Biden may not know this but he currently has another program on the table right now — both the $2.1 trillion infrastructure bill, and tax increases to pay for some of it, met resistance by Republicans and Democrats alike. Biden has also already overseen a $1.9 trillion dollar stimulus bill as well.

2. Johnson & Johnson vaccinations can resume

  • As President Joe Biden announced that 80% of seniors in the United States have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have notified the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) that the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccinations can resume. 
  • ADPH has given the final decision to resume the vaccinations in the state, but the CDC Advisory Committee Immunization Practices has added a warning for women ages 18-49 as there were a handful of cases that resulted in serious blood clots. More than 1 million Alabama residents are now fully vaccinated.

1. Biden unveils new mask plan, it makes little sense

  • President Joe Biden and his administration continue to claim they are making decisions that have already been made by others. The vaccine rollout has unfolded how the previous administration designed as states expanded vaccine eligibility before Biden announced the program to do so. Now, a series of new mask rules, which most states have relaxed, has been announced by the president. 
  • Biden wore a mask outside as he strode to the podium to announce the new rules developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that said he would not need a mask in such a setting. He also still wants fully-vaccinated people to wear masks indoors. U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) dismissed the political theater, saying, “I’m glad the CDC finally acknowledged what has been obvious for a long time, which is that wearing a mask outside is silly and not remotely justified by the science.” He added, “Too often the CDC, especially under the Biden administration, has been driven by politics and not science.”

2 weeks ago

2021 POWER & INFLUENCE 40: Numbers 31-40

(YHN)

It would stand to reason that the most powerful and influential media outlet in Alabama would have a keen sense of which state political figures fit the same bill.

That’s why Yellowhammer Multimedia, once again, is publishing its Power and Influence 40.

Taking into account countless conversations with political insiders, as well as the most recent developments in politics and public policy, the list is meant to recognize the top individuals in government and politics who leverage their power and influence on behalf of those they represent and the Yellowhammer State.

The ranked list is being released in four segments, with 31-40 coming first and 1-10 finishing the week out.

Welcome to a peek behind the curtain.

1350

40. Anthony Daniels

Anthony Daniels has seemingly done the impossible in the Alabama House of Representatives. As House Minority Leader, he has increased his power and influence in the lower chamber despite a reduction in numbers within his caucus.

Sometimes in the House, it is harder to lead that smaller number of people because personalities and agendas become magnified. But Daniels has deftly handled his current leadership position.

Possessing a natural intellect for legislative process and politics, Daniels has figured out how to best channel his caucus’ energy to leverage a permanent seat at the policymaking table.

The Rocket City can count Daniels among its growing list of powerful and influential politicians in state government.

39. Greg Butrus

What we said in 2019: It’s impossible not to learn something during a conversation with Butrus. Once a Senate staffer for legendary Alabama political figure Howell Heflin, Butrus displays the type of personality rare among the silk stocking law firms in downtown Birmingham.

The question is not “what does Greg Butrus know about legislation, ethics opinions and campaign finance laws?” Instead, the question usually asked by Alabama political insiders is “what doesn’t he know?”

This Balch & Bingham attorney has incomparable knowledge in the areas which matter most to lobbyists and principals trying to navigate the Alabama political waters.

His ability to be such a valuable resource among power players makes him one of their peers.

38. Greg Jones

Anyone who thinks bipartisanship is dead has never encountered the governmental affairs practice of Greg Jones.

Possessing an innate ability to connect with policymakers of both parties and all backgrounds, Jones has built one of the most durable practices in Montgomery. This experienced lobbyist and entrepreneur has set up a firm ready to engage on a wide range of issues at all levels of government.

A former Arkansas State defensive back, Jones’ ability to see the entire political field keeps his services in high demand.

37. Sommer Vaughn

What we said in 2019: Vaughn has hit her stride as a lobbyist who consistently delivers results for her clients. No issue is too big or too complex for her to handle.

Being a lobbyist comes naturally to Sommer Vaughn. An ingrained interest in public policy and an ebullient personality allow her to get locked into the decision-making process on any issue in state government.

Perhaps just as important for getting work done in politics is that hint of “don’t mess with me” that Vaughn possesses. Being able to evoke a tinge of fear in people behind an otherwise relatable personality is what delivers results for clients and amounts to longevity in the industry.

The ingredients are there for Vaughn to maintain her power and influence for decades to come.

36. Jeremy Walker

While his members have enjoyed a stellar year in the real estate market, Jeremy Walker has worked to position them well in the realm of Alabama politics.

Walker leads a thriving business association which now has more than $2.5 million in its political action committee. Coupling his ambitious leadership style with those resources will make Walker and his association one of the most impactful players during the upcoming 2022 election cycle.

An attorney and former football player for the Alabama Crimson Tide, Walker should continue to widen his trail of power and influence.

35. Bobby Singleton

Bobby Singleton could teach a master class in how to maximize the power and influence available to an Alabama state senator. He squeezes every ounce of available juice out of his position from start to finish each legislative session.

A commanding presence at the microphone in the well of the chamber, lobbyists and staffers – as well as many of his fellow senators – never quite know whether he is speaking from the heart or with the wink of an eye.

That ability to keep other stakeholders off balance, and a willingness to utilize his influence, necessitates their inclusion of Singleton throughout the policymaking process.

“Let’s work!”

34. Josh Blades

What we said in 2019: The depth of his work in the executive and legislative branches of government provides him the institutional knowledge to service his clients, but his influence comes from having the relationships to bring about results.

When Josh Blades’ clients gain his representation, they get way more than just a guy who walks up and down the hallways of the Statehouse.

Blades has an ability to think about issues and their impact more globally than most, and he could just as easily be running a business or an organization as he could be doing his present job as one of Alabama’s top lobbyists.

It is fascinating to think of how much is left out there for a talent like Blades to accomplish even with how much he has done already. Yet, his work is just beginning.

33. Ben Patterson

What we said in 2019: You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more knowledgeable governmental affairs professional in Alabama than Ben Patterson. And there’s a good reason for this…Patterson holds a doctorate and quite literally taught classes in state and local government, as well as American politics, at the University of Alabama.

Lobbyists come in varying forms. One type is the lobbyist who can open a door and get a meeting scheduled but has no idea what their client actually needs. Another, although somewhat rarer, is the lobbyist who understands the issues but not the personal and political nuances that must be taken into account.

Ben Patterson is the perfect mix of what is good from both of those scenarios.

Patterson is a scholar and able to easily grasp complicated issues. He is also a relationship-builder by nature and has connected with the state’s power players on a personal level.

Being able to leverage that combination of influential traits puts Patterson in a unique position in Montgomery.

32. Paul Pinyan

What we said in 2019: With an impressive phone banking and polling operation, along with the best grassroots network in the state, Pinyan has the top tools at his disposal to continue increasing his power and influence.

Paul Pinyan has drawn up the blueprint for becoming powerful and influential at a business association in Montgomery.

A native of Holly Pond, Pinyan was appointed in 2010 by former Alabama Farmers Federation president Jerry Newby to replace legendary executive director Mike Kilgore. Since that time, Pinyan has effectively consolidated power both within his own building and externally.

Pinyan is particularly proficient in the art of subtle influence in advancing his cause and that of current president Jimmy Parnell, who relies heavily upon Pinyan’s guidance and counsel.

Pinyan’s organization has a little more than $750,000 in its state political action committee. With that tidy sum, the trust of his members and a variety of campaign tools at his disposal, Pinyan has the opportunity for continued success.

31. David Cole

What we said in 2019: Cole is a natural people’s person, someone adept at building genuine relationships and making real connections. In the governmental affairs world, these traits are hard to find.

Few have seen their stock shoot up in recent legislative sessions the way David Cole has.

Cole transitioned from a single industry constituency to the diverse industry interests of the Business Council of Alabama a little more than two years ago. He has thrived under that change of scenery.

Cole came charging out of the gate as senior vice president of governmental affairs at BCA. He was the tip of the legislative spear on the business community’s support for the Rebuild Alabama infrastructure package.

There is no question he will be at the forefront of many legislative fights in the future. All Cole needs is a white board and a phone and he will relentlessly pursue votes on behalf of his group.

Meanwhile, his stock continues to climb.

Check back on Wednesday for the next segment: 21-30

2 weeks ago

7 Things: Alabama keeps all of its U.S. House seats, April 27 tornadoes 10 years later, Palmer wants Biden to take the border seriously and more …

7. Fundraising reports for U.S. Senate race are in

  • With still a long way to go in the 2022 U.S. Senate race, there are currently only two candidates: U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and former U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda Blanchard. 
  • The campaign finance disclosures have been filed by both campaigns with the FEC. Brooks raised $274,152, and Blanchard raised $305,736 in Q1. While Brooks was only a Senate candidate for nine days in the quarter, he could still raise funds for House reelection, but most of his donations weren’t made until after he announced. 

6. You could go to Europe but you would have to leave America

592

  • The EU Commission is reviewing plans that would authorize Americans to travel to continental Europe this summer, but it’s unclear if tourists will be required to be vaccinated before traveling to the countries. 
  • Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has told The New York Times that vaccinated tourists from America will be able to travel overseas this summer, adding, “All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by EMA (European Medicines Agency).”

5. Attorney General Steve Marshall is leaving AG organization

  • The National Association of Attorney Generals (NAAG) is supposed to be a “nonpartisan national forum for the 56 state and territory attorneys general and their staff,” but Attorney General Steve Marshall has left the organization due to concerns over their moves that seem more liberal. 
  • Marshall said he “can’t justify spending taxpayer dollars to fund an organization that seems to be going further and further left.” He added that his office will “add a young lawyer to my consumer protection division and yield a far better return on the taxpayer’s investment.”

4. Who was John Kerry working for?

  • It’s been alleged that former Secretary of State and current Special President Envoy for Climate John Kerry gave intelligence on secret Israeli operations in Syria to Iran, but President Joe Biden won’t comment on the matter.
  • The allegation was through a leaked recording, so State Department spokesman Ned Ryan said they “can’t vouch for the authenticity of it, for the accuracy of it, and so, of course, I’m not going to comment directly on what’s on that tape on that recording.”

3. Palmer: Ignoring the problem at the border won’t make it go away

  • U.S. Representative Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) is bringing attention to the crisis at the southern border while also criticizing President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for not responding to the issues seen with overpopulated facilities and conditions people are having to live with. 
  • Palmer referenced Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas saying the nation is on track “to encounter more individuals at the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years,” but Palmer added, “It is time for this Administration to acknowledge the problem that it has created and to work with Congress to resolve it.”

2. Day of Remembrance for 10 years after storms

  • The deadly tornadoes that tore through the state of Alabama happened 10 years ago today on April 27, 2011, and now Governor Kay Ivey has declared this a Day of Remembrance and ordered flags be flown at half-staff.
  • There were 62 tornadoes across 35 counties in the state, which left many without power for nearly a week, 2,219 people injured and 254 people dead. Ivey noted that these storms did result in better preparation and disaster response going forward. 

1. Alabama will keep all 7 congressional seats

  • In the first announcement from the U.S. Census Bureau, it was confirmed that Alabama will keep all of its current seven U.S. House of Representative seats. This comes as a major victory because it was anticipated that Alabama would likely lose a seat. 
  • The data released on the 2020 U.S. Census shows that Alabama now has a population of 5.03 million, which is 5.2% growth instead of the estimated 2.6% growth since 2010. More detailed data on local levels won’t be released until September 30.

2 weeks ago

7 Things: Biden’s poll numbers mixed, Alabama tourism fared well in 2020, Ivey signs transgender ban in sports bill and more …

7. Alabama lacking in communication capabilities but Space Command coming still the right move

  • While there are many advantages to moving U.S. Space Command headquarters to Huntsville, Space Command’s General James Dickinson said that there would have to be a communication network and other installations built, which would be expensive, if the headquarters were moved.
  • Dickinson, who was being questioned by U.S. Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO) of the House Armed Services Committee, added as he continued to advocate for the move, “In terms of military type of operations, I believe you can do it in two different locations that wouldn’t necessarily be there in Colorado Springs.”

6. Alabama U.S. Representatives support holding Iran accountable

613

  • The Maximum Pressure Act is an effort to put more pressure on Iran through sanctions, and now U.S. Representatives Jerry Carl (R-Mobile), Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) and Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) have signed on as original cosponsors of the legislation.
  • Carl said, “President Biden and his administration have failed to show strong leadership and get tough on Iran, so Congress is taking action.” The Alabama congressmen are joining the legislation being led by U.S. Representative Jim Banks (R-IN) and former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

5. Marshall standing up against court-packing

  • Twenty attorneys general, including Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, have written a letter to President Joe Biden to voice their opposition to the recent push to pack the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Marshall stated how the Supreme Court has “become the most trusted branch of government to be an appropriate check on both executive and legislative powers … for Democrats to be able to say, there needs to be a change without a compelling reason, is clearly just an effort by Democrats to be able to obtain additional power.”

4. Woodfin denounces law that protects female sports

  • Governor Kay Ivey has signed a bill that would protect female sports by requiring that students only compete in divisions with their birth gender, and now Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin has taken issue with the decision.
  • Woodfin said that the “focus should be on expanding and protecting civil rights, and helping our economy,” but lamented that this law “achieves neither.” On speculation about how this law could impact decisions made by NCAA and other sports organizations, Ivey said, “I’m the governor of the people of Alabama, not the NCAA or any of those groups.”

3. Alabama tourism did better than most states in 2020

  • Nationally, tourism spending declined 42%, according to the Alabama Tourism Department. The department also found that in Alabama, the decline was only 20% due to the tourism still seen in Baldwin County through the pandemic.
  • Judy Ryals, the chair of the board that oversees the tourism committee, said that “success is all the more remarkable when you factor in that the beaches were closed for six weeks in the spring and one week due to a hurricane in the fall.” Over $13 billion was spent on tourism in 2020, compared to the $18 billion in 2019.

2. Tuberville not pleased with Biden’s first 100 days

  • While in an interview on “Fox & Friends Weekend,” U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) discussed President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office, and he said that he’s “never seen a country be so downgraded as much as it has been by the Democrats, in just a three-month period.”
  • Tuberville also called Biden out on his claims of being a “moderate” who “was going to bring unity” but not actually following through on those claims. Tuberville asked Biden “where God plays a role in your America now,” saying the president only mentions going to church. He added, “[W]e better get our moral values back in this country, and it starts with God.”

1. Concern has increased under Biden

  • Polling data released by Fox News shows the issues that people are concerned about with Joe Biden as president, with a majority of people concerned about the economy, health care, infrastructure, gun laws and illegal immigration, but Biden still maintains a 53% approval rating.
  • According to the poll, 78% are concerned about the economy, 74% are concerned about gun laws, 73% are worried about health care, 68% have concerns about infrastructure under Biden and 67% are worried about illegal immigration.

2 weeks ago

VIDEO: Guilty verdict, gambling bill is more complicated than you thought, Democrats celebrate 420 to the detriment of medical marijuana bill and more on Alabama Politics This Week …

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and political consultant Mecca Musick take you through Alabama’s biggest political stories, including:

— Was Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict about this case or this country?

— Will Alabama’s gambling bill see a lot of changes as it is debated in the Alabama House of Representatives?

— Why are Democrats trying to discuss recreational marijuana while legalized medical marijuana is closer to becoming a reality than it ever has been in Alabama?

86

Jackson and Musick are joined by Talk 99.5’s Matt Murphy to discuss the issues facing the state of Alabama this week.

Jackson closes the show with a “Parting Shot” directed at NBA superstar LeBron James, who needs to accept that he has a responsibility to be smarter about his activism.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN and on Talk 99.5 from 10AM to noon.

3 weeks ago

7 Things: Alabama database for policing passes as Columbus shooting facts become clear, voting twice is now illegal in Alabama, charter school funding bill fails and more …

7. Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council issues silly report

  • A report that took 10 months to put together found that the Huntsville Police Department engaged in “unprofessional” behavior and addressed other complaints about the protests that took place on June 1 and June 3 last summer.
  • The 248-page report suggests more training for the police in dealing with protests against the police and on racial issues, but the response by law enforcement was clearly a successful attempt to head off rioting and looting that had taken place in other cities.

6. Tuberville: We’re ready for U.S. Space Command

676

  • U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) is advocating for how well-prepared Huntsville is to have the U.S. Space Command headquarters.
  • Tuberville said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that “many people in this room probably don’t understand Redstone.” He also mentioned the history Redstone has with NASA and the Marshall Space Flight Center, the Army Missile Command and the potential space advantages to having “800 suppliers and contractors building the very latest in space technology” near Redstone.

5. D.C. statehood passed by U.S. House

  • In a 216-208 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the legislation that would grant statehood to Washington, D.C. While the bill will now go to the U.S. Senate, its future is unknown due to the Democrat majority not being enough to pass the bill.
  • Recently, President Joe Biden voiced support for D.C. statehood, with the White House describing the area as having “a robust economy, a rich culture, and a diverse population of Americans from all walks of life who are entitled to full and equal participation in our democracy.”

4. Charter school bill fails, AEA flexes muscles

  • A bill that would have allowed more state tax dollars to follow students to state-run charter schools failed after education groups were spreading misinformation, according to State Representative Terri Collins (R-Decatur). The bill would have given charter schools the full share for each student that attend charter schools.
  • After the bill failed, the Alabama Education Association took to Twitter to celebrate keeping funding from following students, declaring, “WE WON!! The charter school bill, HB487, just failed on the House floor 60-36! We thank you for your overwhelming response to legislators by letting them know our community schools matter!”

3. One voter integrity bill passes, another stalls

  • The legislation sponsored by State Representative Chris Blackshear (R-Phenix City) and Senate Majority Leader Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville) that would make voting multiple times in the same election by voting in different states illegal has passed the Alabama Senate. Somehow, this was opposed by multiple legislators, with only Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) and State Senators Roger Smitherman (D-Birmingham), Greg Albritton (R-Atmore), and Kirk Hatcher (D-Montgomery) voting against the bill.
  • Legislation by State Representative Wes Allen (R-Troy) that would ban curbside voting has been delayed in the State Senate. The bill was only set aside after Democrat and Republican senators couldn’t come to an agreement on the bill. While the argument for the ban has been to protect the chain of custody for ballots, State Senator Roger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) said that this is “trying to put impediments in the way of people voting.”

2. More support for officer’s actions in Ohio

  • The shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant in Ohio continues to be criticized, but in an interview, a neighbor who captured surveillance footage of the incident, Donavon Brinson, said that the police officer “reacted with what he thought was his best judgment.”
  • Brinson added that “the video doesn’t lie.” There has been a national uproar over the shooting, and there has already been bodycam footage released of the entire incident. Brinson’s footage showed the incident from another angle that wasn’t previously available with the bodycams.

1. Alabama will now track officer complaints and disciplinary actions

  • Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill that would create a non-public state database to keep track of problems with law enforcement officers so they do not go to another jurisdiction after facing discipline. The new database will track police officers’ employment history, disciplinary actions, use of force complaints and reassignments for cause to keep them from being employed after being removed from the force.
  • State Representative A.J. McCampbell (D-Demopolis), a former police officer himself, sponsored a bill to keep bad officers from moving “from one city to the next city.” McCampbell said, “We have great officers. But it’s just like any other profession, you have great actors and you have bad actors. This is an opportunity to weed out the bad actors.”

3 weeks ago

7 Things: Tuberville wants more training and body cams for police, Columbus shooting shows anti-cop sentiment is very strong, criminal justice reform pushed in Alabama and more …

7. Alabama working to make sure visitors are still allowed at care facilities

  • Legislation sponsored by State Representative Debbie Wood (R-Valley) and carried by State Senator Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman) that would require health care facilities to always allow at least one visitor for a patient or nursing home resident has passed the Alabama State Senate.
  • Of course, this is in response to the restrictions put on hospitals and nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic for visitation. The bill will return to the House for concurrence or nonconcurrence, and if passed, it will go to Governor Kay Ivey to be signed.

6. Vaccine passports are closer to being banned

640

  • The Alabama House Health Committee has approved the bill by State Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) that would make requiring coronavirus vaccine “passports” illegal. This would also prohibit government agencies from requiring people to get vaccinated.
  • The bill would prevent businesses and other establishments from requiring that people provide documentation that they’re vaccinated before receiving services. State Representative Paul Lee (R-Dothan) said some places already require them. He advised, “We have to be careful because we have hospitals, medical facilities, and even colleges that there are already [require vaccines], so, we didn’t want to muddy up that area.”

5. Monthly child tax credit could be extended to 2025

  • President Joe Biden already included a $300 per month child tax credit for one year in his American Rescue Plan, but those payments would be extended until 2025 in a $1 trillion American Families Plan infrastructure and economic recovery package.
  • This would be paid for by increasing taxes on wealthy individuals and taxing capital gains as income, which has already been discussed by the Biden administration. It’s expected that the details of the American Families plan will be announced in the next month.

4. Renewed push for more criminal justice reform

  • After the verdict for former police officer Derek Chauvin’s case was announced and he was found guilty on all counts of murder, Democrats in Alabama are now refocusing on police and criminal justice reform.
  • State Representative Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) said that while they “support law enforcement … we believe law enforcement should be held to a higher standard and their actions should be fair and responsible.”

3. Ohio officer’s name and 911 call released

  • In Columbus, Ohio, the police officer who shot Ma’Khia Bryant has been identified as officer Nicholas Reardon; authorities have also released the 911 call and bodycam footage related to the incident. Reardon shot Bryant after she didn’t drop a knife and continued to attempt to use it on other girls at the scene.
  • On the issue, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the shooting was “tragic,” adding, “We know that police violence disproportionately impacts Black and Latino people and communities and that Black women and girls like Black men and boys experience higher rates of police violence.”

2. LeBron James, the media and their Democrats embarrass themselves

  • After the news and video of the recent shooting of a 16-year-old who was trying to stab another black teen clearly depicted the scene where a cop fired his weapon to protect someone, the American media, Democrats and the staff of the leaders of the free world decided to suggest the cops should not have intervened and the shooting was an act of “systemic racism and implicit bias.”
  • Basketball superstar and communist Chinese superfan LeBron James tweeted the picture of the police officer who shot the 16-year-old and added the text “YOU’RE NEXT” to his 50 million followers. After realizing that this was a clear incitement of violence, he sheepishly took the tweet down and added another tweet declaring, “I took the tweet down because its being used to create more hate -This isn’t about one officer,” even though he was creating hate himself.

1. Tuberville calls for more body cams and more training

  • U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) reacted to the conviction of Derek Chauvin with a clear statement about police needing more funding, not less, for more training, more body cams and higher salaries.
  • Tuberville believes the jury got it right, stating, “[A]fter we all saw the tape, almost 10 minutes of what the officer did, the jury did their job” and later added, we must “continue to look at the good things in law enforcement and make the things that are not as good better.”

3 weeks ago

7 Things: Derek Chauvin found guilty on all three counts, Birmingham to pardon 15,000 marijuana convictions, Brooks going to Mar-A-Lago as Trump continues offering his support and more …

7. Biden supports making Washington, D.C. a state

  • President Joe Biden’s White House has come out in support of making Washington, D.C. the 51st state and said that Congress needs to pass legislation to make the area a state for “long overdue full representation.”
  • The U.S. House of Representatives has started a set of votes to decide if the bill for D.C. statehood will be approved, and the White House OMB added, “This taxation without representation and denial of self-governance is an affront to the democratic values on which our nation was founded.”

6. Alabama’s Democrats and Republicans know Amtrak’s return to Mobile makes no sense

450

  • There’s a bipartisan effort within the U.S. House of Representatives to prevent Amtrak from moving forward with the Gulf Coast Passenger Rail project in response to Amtrak’s resistance to an impact study.
  • Now, a letter has been sent to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board by U.S. Representatives Jerry Carl (R-Mobile), Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville), Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham), Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) and Barry Moore (R-Enterprise). The letter asks that an impact and feasibility study be completed before Amtrak is allowed to move forward.

5. College athletes bill signed by Ivey

  • In Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey has signed legislation that would allow college athletes to be paid for the use of their name, likeness and image.
  • The law won’t go into effect until the NCAA decides to allow college athletes to be paid, which is expected to be coming soon. Florida has also adopted a similar law.

4. “Period poverty”

  • The bill that would require free female hygiene products be made available in public school bathrooms has made it through the Alabama House Ways and Means Committee.
  • The bill was introduced by State Representative Rolanda Hollis (D-Birmingham); if passed by the legislature, the products would have to be provided by the 2022-2023 school year. Local boards of education would be responsible for producing the products.

3. Brooks continues to run up the score in the Senate race

  • The obvious frontrunner in the 2022 U.S. Senate race, U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), is driving home the point that former President Donald Trump supports his campaign and is heading to South Florida for a fundraiser.
  • The event at Mar-a-Lago comes after Trump endorsed Brooks in early April and after multiple cable news appearances by President Trump where the former president touted Brooks’ campaign. He also predicted a Mo Brooks victory.

2. Birmingham to pardon 15,000 people

  • About 15,000 people with misdemeanor marijuana charges are set to be pardoned by the City of Birmingham, as was announced by Mayor Randall Woodfin.
  • The charges range from 1990-2020, but these pardons won’t impact any open cases. These pardons were able to happen through the city’s Pardons for Progress program.

1. Chauvin convicted on all charges

  • Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been convicted on all three counts he was charged with: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
  • Some of the responses to this development have been confusing. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) thanked Floyd for “sacrificing” his life while Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin reacted to the news by saying the “verdict is accountability, but it is not full justice.” Woodfin tried to explain, “Full justice would be George Floyd here for this turning point in equal justice.”

3 weeks ago

7 Things: Derek Chauvin trial in the hands of the jury, Alabama’s gambling future will be decided soon, Alabama prison reform hits funding snag and more …

7. Biden’s words are not the policy of the Biden White House

  • President Joe Biden recently said there was an immigration-related “crisis,” which would lead many to believe he was referring to the situation at the southern border as there are a record number of migrants flooding the area. 
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki explained that Biden was apparently referring to “the crisis in Central America, the dire circumstances that many are fleeing from, that that is a situation we need to spend our time, our effort on, and we need to address it if we’re going to prevent more of an influx of migrants from coming in years to come.”

6. Alabama ranked top 10 for economic momentum

635

  • Washington, D.C.-based State Policy Reports released a list to show where states rank based on economic momentum, and Governor Kay Ivey announced that Alabama ranked in the top 10. 
  • Overall, Alabama was ranked No. 8 nationally. Broken down, the state ranked No. 13 for personal income growth, No. 7 for employment growth and No. 25 for population growth. 

5. Alabama’s Pre-K program is still the best in the nation

  • For the 15th year, the First Class Pre-K program in Alabama has been ranked as the best in the country by National Institute for Early Education Research. 
  • The state of Alabama is currently on track to offer early education to everyone statewide by the 2025-2026 school year. Governor Kay Ivey stated, “Alabama continues to set the nationwide bar for our success with the Alabama First Class Pre-K program.”

4. Three months of misinformation about a U.S. Capitol police officer’s death

  • For more than three months, the American media and their sources have intentionally misled the American people about the events that led to the death of U.S. Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick. The weaponized misinformation was utilized by the media to shape the narrative of an armed, violent insurrection that seems disconnected from reality at this point. 
  • As the events of January 6 became clear in the following days, reports of Sicknick being beaten to death with a fire extinguisher led the news; that shifted eventually to the officer’s death being caused by bear mace, and now we are learning the officer died of natural causes after having a stroke. There will be no accountability for the creation of this narrative or introspection by the American media as to how this happened, again.

3. Investment for prisons falls through

  • The investment bank Barclays has decided to pull out from underwriting the finances for two of the private prisons Governor Kay Ivey contracted businesses to build. 
  • State Senator Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) shared how this “shows that the Legislature’s concerns about the program continue to be justified,” such as that of funding. Ivey has said that this won’t stop the plan to build more prisons, since they’ve already “put in place new options to advance this vital transaction in a timely and efficient manner.”

2. Future of gambling bill could be clearer this week

  • State Representative Chris Blackshear (R-Phenix City) is going to sponsor the gaming legislation that made it through the State Senate last week, but there are only a few days left for this legislative session.  
  • Blackshear said that sometime this week they should know if there are any changes needed to the bill to have “a good path moving forward to when we have these bills in committee, when and if we have an opportunity to get these bills and legislation to the floor for a vote before the end of the session on May 17.”

1. Chauvin trial has ended

  • Former officer Derek Chauvin has been on trial for murder in the death of George Floyd, and now the jury is deliberating on whether to convict Chauvin. The prosecutors claimed that Floyd was killed by Chauvin’s actions intentionally and because “Mr. Chauvin’s heart was too small.” The defense countered that the crowd on hand distracted the police officers and that Floyd’s resistance, heart problems and use of fentanyl and methamphetamine led to his death.
  • Chauvin’s defense attorney Eric Nelson did bring up U.S. Representative Maxine Waters’ (D-CA) comment telling protesters to “get more confrontational,” and Judge Peter Cahill said he wishes elected representatives wouldn’t reference the case so freely, “especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law.”

3 weeks ago

7 Things: 50% of Americans vaccinated, unemployment drops as hiring gets tougher, Maxine Waters wants confrontations in the street if Chauvin is acquitted and more …

7. Ledbetter wants to make building schools easier

  • Legislation sponsored by State Representative Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) would change how schools and community college construction projects are regulated, allowing the schools to have control over the project as long as the cost is at or below $500,000.
  • Public schools and community colleges all have their construction projects overseen by the State Department of Finance’s Division of Constriction Management currently, but some like Dekalb County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jason Barnett have said that when they had local projects, there was a significant drop in cost when state oversight was removed.

6. Still no cruises allowed; Ivey and Stimpson advocating for reopening

697

  • As summer approaches, Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson and Governor Kay Ivey are encouraging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to remove the ban on cruise ships sailing. Stimpson is concerned with the ban “is the impact it has on citizens and the businesses of Mobile.”
  • Stimpson also noted the “hundreds of employees that are directly impacted and hundreds of businesses that are indirectly impacted” by this decision. Governor Kay Ivey has also made statements to encourage the CDC to allow cruise ships to sail again, adding that she’s “totally confident that the Mobile Alabama cruise ship terminal can meet any demands necessary to get this terminal back up and positioned for success.”

5. Tuberville’s vote against “hate crime” bill vindicated

  • After U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) voted against the COVID-19 Hate Crimes bill, the Asian American and Pacific Islander caucus within the Alabama Democratic Party called on him to apologize for his vote. He claimed it would lead to the “creation of a database where anyone could report a citizen for hate ‘incidents’ with no fear of punishment if they do so out of spite.”
  • AAPI, mostly ignoring his reasoning and proving that he was correct, said that Tuberville’s vote “proves he would rather stoke the flames of insurrection than do his job.” Tuberville previously explained that he voted against considering the legislation over concerns it “bypasses the committee process and emphasizes creating a political narrative rather than careful consideration of real issues facing our country.”

4. Waters wants rioters to be MORE confrontational

  • As the Derek Chauvin trial over George Floyd’s death in Minnesota will soon be coming to a close, U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) has said that if Chauvin is not convicted, “We’ve got to stay on the street and we’ve got to get more active, we’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”  
  • Waters made this statement to protesters in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, where protests and riots have been taking place recently over the shooting and death of Daunte Wright. Republicans have criticized Waters’ comments, with U.S. Representative Ken Buck (R-CO) asking, “Why is a sitting member of Congress encouraging protestors to get ‘confrontational?’” U.S. Representative Andy Biggs (R-AZ) said, “The Radical Left don’t care if your towns are burning, if there’s violence in your streets, or if the police are too defunded to defend their communities. As long as the Left appeases their anti-America base, their job is done.”

3. Unemployment below 4%

  • In March, unemployment in Alabama fell below 4.0% for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, with the unemployment rate falling to 3.8%, Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington announced.
  • Before the coronavirus pandemic started, the state’s unemployment rate was 2.6%, but in March 2021 there were 84,670 people unemployed, as opposed to 91,041 in February.

2. Johnson & Johnson vaccines likely to resume this week

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci recently said that he believes the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines will be available after the Friday meeting between advisers for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where they’ll discuss the vaccine.
  • Fauci said he doesn’t “really anticipate that they’re going to want it stretch out a bit longer.” The initial pause of the vaccine came after there were six cases of serious blood clots out of the seven million who had taken the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Fauci also said there are changes are coming to the advice given to vaccinated people.

1. Alabama vaccine numbers are still low

  • In Alabama, about 37% of adults have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, as was announced Sunday; 50% of adults across the country have received at least the first dose. Hale County has the most adults vaccinated in the state with almost 45%.
  • The number of adults vaccinated in Alabama is at about 1.4 million, with almost 915,000 of those being fully vaccinated. Currently, Madison County is reporting that 40% of adults have received at least one shot; Jefferson County is at 42%, and Mobile County is at 35%.